Image source: Gnosis Online

Media As a Shaping Agent of Society: Wherefore Art Thou Treacherous?

8. The Co-Evolution of Media, Technology and Society: Past, Present, and Future — The Technology of Influence Singularity

James Autio
Nov 26, 2016 · 88 min read

Deep Background and Threat Forensics: Briefing Focus

[economics | finance | politics | sociology | military strategy | technology]

Important note: The use of Medium on mobile devices does not include captions for videos and embedded Tweets and these passages are mission-critical to navigate the intended stream of consciousness carefully scripted for this communication (the design of this communication is extremely atypical).


Forces of momentous change on our immediate event horizon are going to rattle the cage of our biological constitution. If we fail to awaken, we will rapidly and nonlinearly — given current technological vectors — find ourselves in a precarious societal position. Societal costs are already accruing in a leading-edge phase that are steadily ramping-up because media’s nature affects perception directly, operating stealthily below our radar thus triggering no evolutionary safeguards: behold the Achilles heel of the human mind.

Understand: We are moving rapidly into a new stage of technological prowess: the technology of influence is upon us — now. We have already arrived at the foothills of a type of Singularity; no, not THAT Singularity but A Singularity of a different ilk.

This intelligence briefing’s aims are twofold:

  1. examine the evolutionary threads of the forces of influence that led to and define our here and now as a societal ecosystem including the diverse technologies and tools leveraged along the way to facilitate the process from A → B; and
  2. objectively project a logically-sound matrix of likely futures with the overarching takeaway being to illuminate the enormous magnitude and societal-scale of both profound benefits and devious hazards at stake and clearly justify the great truth of: “asking the right questions is vastly more important than correctly answering the wrong questions.” If you walk away from this intelligence briefing with a mind bursting with questions and no answers that would be a great place to embark. The business opportunities for startups and grownups is enormous and will be outlined with rigor.

The intent herein is to discover and delineate the key milestones of the technology and methodologies of human influence while not being exhaustive — in any case, a one-hour guaranteed revelation. The framework and posture of the narrative and its argument is neither of Luddite stance or myopically-dependent on technological rose-colored glasses; instead, the touchstone is advocacy of quality-of-life given our species’ operating parameters nested safely within healthy ecological tolerances.

Technology is a tool: clubs, typewriters, nuclear energy, and artificial intelligence are indifferent to good or evil, merely flows of quarks and 1’s and 0's. It is their use that determines societal benefit or cost. Past: The pen is mightier than the sword; Future: cyber tech is mightier than physical tech. But always, as Shakespeare said: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking [context = intentions & perceptions] makes it so.” I am going to take you on a guided tour all the way down to the very bowels of the rabbit hole where the sun doesn’t shine and while traveling in dark passages it will seem bleak and perhaps even ugly; this story, however, does have a happy ending but, of course, with serious caveats. Stay the course.

A big chunk of the problem is being aware that there is a problem; it is largely asymptomatic very much like breathing carbon monoxide and then failing to realize you died; under the spell of influence, your thinking changes gradually and imperceptibly until your interpretations of your environment and resultant behaviors as they interact with others produce amplified network effects on the inter-personal level that cascade into societal impact in myriad perilous ways on multiple dimensions if left unchecked. Or, it can go the other way: a societal zeitgeist steeped in accelerated human learning achieved by standing on the enormous shoulders of luminous server clouds.

Note: The impact of media on society has been a prevalent gray swan in the background for decades. Why it has now become a Prevailing Gray Swan [ What is a gray swan? re: Nassim Nicholas Taleb] is the exponential impact of many technological disciplines synergistically converging on a soft target: the vulnerability and plasticity of human perception — our neurobiology.

{The Technology of Influence Singularity (acronym “TIS”) = Technology + Message → Neurobiology → Society A → Society B}

The unaccounted for 800-pound gorilla in the room is named TIS and he will be a 2000-pounder very quickly.

An Abbreviated Chronology of the Exploitation of the Vulnerability of Human Perception: A Case of Cognitive Habitat Destruction

The Past

Media used to be atomized by being separated as physical newspapers and magazines along with a few distinct radio and tv channels that had clear and well-articulated identities (“brands”) with high-cost barriers to entry. That is not to say they were harmless, they certainly had agendas but their impact was muted given inherent technological limitations. The technological limitations were not restricted to communication vehicles (media); relevant technologies also include the relative efficiacy of working models of human perception and models of belief systems and their propagation efficiency (e.g. “virality”). Advances in neurobiology are operating in parallel with technological advances in computers, AI, and networks (social networks + hardware networks) and their convergence yields parabolic synergistic effects targeting our biology of perception.

Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion. He saw the deep connection and utility between semantics, media and manipulation of collective behavior. His landmark book, Propaganda, was published in 1928. (Source page: Aetherforce)

The original classic cover from the English 1928 edition. Do you think methodologies have improved in 90 years? (Source page:

Propaganda* is information designed to influence the behavior of a large number of people through their social networks; the integration of intent, expertise and production of programming is what gives propaganda, via a medium — media — the power to influence perception and do so scale-free. Perception is not reality but perception is assumed to be reality and those assumptions are programmable on an involuntary, evolutionary basis, a vulnerability that is easily exploited with much to gain — or lose. Survival in primitive, indigenous environments mandated this capacity we all share as primates; the relevance of this is crucial and will be explored in-depth. Unfortunately, the vulnerability arises when technology poisoned with nefarious intent exploits our perceptual plasticity in ways that are maladaptive to biological and/or socially-safe operating ranges, ranges foreign and harmful to our personal well-being as well as crippling sustainability at planetary-scale in myriad potential dimensions.

It is this low barrier to programmability of defective assumptions that is so dangerous at the individual level but is lethal at the collective, societal level,

AND/OR the converse:

it is this low barrier to programmability of value-enriched assumptions that is such an untapped opportunity at the individual level but is magnificent at the collective, societal level.

The technology to influence (TIS) human behavior can be used to benefit or harm society and in the future this will be greatly amplified in both directions. | Statue of Justice at the Castellania in Valletta, Malta
(Author: Continentaleurope, Source page: Wikipedia, CC-3.0)

The blindfolded Justice Lady must balance manipulation and organized violence with accelerated learning, augmented intelligence, smart commerce and positive behavioral modification. The obligate abandonment of ethical neutrality is a major theme of this intelligence briefing.

*Propaganda: etymology derived from Latin propagare (propagation), modern derivatives: “going viral”, memes, ideavirus (coined by Seth Godin)

Joseph Goebbels: Reichsminister für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Gauleiter Berlin, Deutschland, 1942. (Source page: Wikipedia)

After the foundational work of Edward Bernays the next major milestone in furthering the prospects of effective propaganda was the work of Joseph Goebbels during the early days of Hitler’s rise to power and the establishment of the Third Reich, which brought to an end the German Weimar Republic. Goebbels was appointed by Hitler as Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in 1933, just five years after the publication of Bernay’s Propaganda: The Public Mind in the Making. Goebbels became a true believer in Hitler’s “political genius” who he considered “half-plebeian, half-god.” With the influence of propaganda fostered by Goebbels, Hitler achieved cult status and galvanized the collective will of a nation out of the ashes of a severely depressed Weimar Republic — the people were desperate to be saved by somebody. Hitler stepped up as a leader whereas Goebbels hijacked the news media, literature, visual arts, filmmaking, theatre, music, and broadcasting to get all Germans on the same page while singing the same tune in goose step. Goebbels role was to prepare the German people psychologically for war. The stakes were total, thus total war was the response.

Goebbels’ now 105-year old secretary Brunhilde Pomsel. (Source: YouTube)
Goebbels delivered his ‘most important but at the same time his most repulsive rhetorical performance’, the speech at the Berlin Sportpalast on 18 February 1943, in which he spoke of the need for ‘total war’ and excoriated the Jews who guided Germany’s enemies.” (Caption: The Guardian, David Blackbourn)
Semantic payloads must be meticulously crafted to both polarize and unite independent social groups behind symbols such as “patriotism,” the flag, or enemies, real or imagined. Emotionally fomenting stark division is the lifeblood of effective propaganda. Without mastery of its methods, political aspiration at the nation-state level will be short-lived. (Source: YouTube)

“We do not talk to say something, but to obtain a certain effect.”

— Joseph Goebbels

“Red & Blue”: north and south magnetic poles, the foundation of polarity. (Source: | Differentiation And Polarization)
Confirmation Bias (Denial or suppression of information content xenophobic to ones personal belief system is built-in to our biological operating system): The extraordinary polarization of Democrat and Republican blogs during the 2004 US election which created silo effects — “bubble or echo chambers.” (Visual creator: Lada Adamic | (Social Physics: Using networks and data to understand people, culture and society))

The difference between magnetized iron filings and propaganized Homo sapiens is literally(!) but not figuratively “apples and oranges.” We are fooled by perception, not reality. Please take note as this is not coincidental, bizarre phenomena or merely correlative or speculative hyperbole. It transcends biology: there is a scale-free, fractal, emergent quality that may be a universal thread that ladders on the underlying foundational property of physics’ “polarity.” Principles of polarity occupy a complexity continuum from electromagnetism to tribalism which spans the hierarchical complexity layers of physics, chemistry and biology with chemically-based electrical activity at the neuronal synapse which has origins in the lipid bilayer property of cell membranes rewinding all the way back to bacteria. It remains an important open question with profound ramifications beyond the scope of TIS.

Also: The ancient philosophical argument between “free will” and determinism will be further challenged by propaganda. In other words, given TIS, is “free will” really “free”? By the time you finish this document you will understand that your executive decision-making apparatus is highly vulnerable to subversion or hijack without your conscious awareness, a tragic flaw with no redress.

[Explore in-depth: embodied cognition, evolution of intelligence, neurobiology of the epigenetic control system, attractor basins and network theory] Note: also my authorship (See Chapter 6 in Table of Contents):

(Driver ants. (Source page: ViralNova)
Swarm of locusts. (Source image: DK Find Out!)
School of fish. (Source page: Awesome Ocean)
Flock of birds. (Source page: How It Works)
Migrating wildebeests. (Source page: Lifted Gorilla)
Question: Why do you believe this is qualitatively different from a school of barracuda or magnetized iron filings? (Source: The Occult History of the Third Reich)

A question at this point: if social media existed in 1933 do you think Goebbels wouldn’t have leveraged it to frightening advantage given his deep insight and vast talent to exploit the Achilles heel of the mind?

Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, (original French cover) 1962. (Source: Amazon (english version))

The next major milestone in propaganda’s evolution was first published in 1962 by Frenchman Jacques Ellul entitled: Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. In this iconic work, he cites Goebbels 27 times, obviously imposing a powerful influence on Ellul’s thought. Ellul posited several deep truths, two of which are crucially germane today:

Central in Ellul’s thesis is that modern propaganda cannot work without “education”: he thus reverses the widespread notion that education is the best prophylactic against propaganda. On the contrary, he says, education, or what usually goes by that word in the modern world, is the absolute prerequisite for propaganda. In fact, education is largely identical with what Ellul calls “pre-propaganda” — the conditioning of minds with vast amounts of incoherent information, already dispensed for ulterior purposes and posing as “facts” and as “education.” Ellul follows through by designating intellectuals as virtually the most vulnerable of all to modern propaganda for three reasons: (1) they absorb the largest amount of secondhand, unverifiable information; (2) they feel a compelling need to have an opinion on every important question of our time, and thus easily succumb to opinions offered to them by propaganda on all such indigestible pieces of information; and (3) they consider themselves capable of judging for themselves. They literally need propaganda.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1965, fromIntroduction” by Konrad Kellen, p. vi)

and secondly, in his The Technological Society published two years later in 1964:

The prime consideration is the union of two very different categories of technique which yield this new system of human technique. The first is a complex of mechanical techniques (principally radio, press, and motion pictures) which permit direct communication with a very large number of persons collectively, while simultaneously addressing each individual in the group. These techniques possess an extraordinary power of persuasion and a remarkable capacity to bring psychic and intellectual pressure to bear. The second category consists of a complex of psychological (and even psychoanalytical) techniques which give access to exact knowledge of the human psyche. It can thus be motivated with considerable confidence in the results.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: The Technological Society, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1964, p. 363–4)

The Technological Society. The original in French (left) published in 1954. (Source image:

In society at large, and particularly in a highly-connected network environment (i.e. “target-rich”), the softest target is tragically counterintuitive especially considering their privileged cul-de-sac stature and their pervasive influence over the masses; it is the intellectuel engagéthe ivory tower academics with rarified sheepskins, the think-tank elite, the exalted media talking-heads, the “consultant” and all related species whose pride and joy is a vast library of expensive books with dogeared pages until the cows come home. Control the head and the body politic will follow. In today’s domineering noösphere, who has the most followers and why? Perhaps Ellul ripped off Plato but even two millennia later we still haven’t gotten the memo and still pay allegiance — even homage(!) — to this same ill-advised ilk:

“Those who tell the stories rule society.” — Plato

Question: Who comes up with these stories? (Important!)

Learn more at The International Jacques Ellul Society. (Source: YouTube)

Question: What would Ellul in the 1960s say about the utility of Facebook, Twitter and Google to their respective owners and a handful of enlightened power users if you demonstrated the programs to him on an iPad? How about the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election?: Surprise or fait accompli? Would he understand the significance of “[big] data” in these contexts? How about AI? Social bots and personal assistants? Social graphs? Robots?

Could he school YOU on their potential power to exploit the Achilles heel of the mind?

Summary of Past

Efficacy of TIS(Past) = [Bernays + Goebbels + Hitler + Ellul + pre-digital broadcast technology]

The Present

All modern, first-world military organizations have studied Bernays, Goebbels, and Ellul in earnest. As time moves on, weapons from qualitatively different domains have handsomely filled out the world’s arsenals: clubs, swords, firearms, explosives, planes, ships, submarines, missiles, nuclear payloads, robots, cyberwarfare and psyops (cognitive applications like interrogation and propaganda (“brainwashing”)). Psyops has steadily gained in sophistication and efficiency since the 1930s and the military has committed the resources to accelerate the process. So, what are psyops, exactly?:

AFDD 2–5 describes influence operations as those “affecting the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations,” including PSYOP and MILDEC within its definition. PSYOP involves conveying selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, attitudes, objective reasoning, and behavior. MILDEC operations (whether offensively or defensively focused) mislead adversary decision makers in order to cause them to take actions (or not act) in accordance with friendly objectives. Viewed in operational terms, the influence-operations mission area consists of capabilities that produce effects within the cognitive domain.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Air and Space Power Journal, “Defining Information Operations Forces: What Do We Need?”,

Persuade. Change. Influence. US Army’s PSYOP symbols. (Source: Wikipedia (public domain))

In modern times, the methodology has become boilerplate:

In order to create a successful PSYOP the following must be established:

1. clearly define the mission so that it aligns with national objectives

2. need a PSYOP estimate of the situation

3. prepare the plan

4. media selection

5. product development

6. pretesting — determines the probable impact of the PSYOP on the target audience

7. production and dissemination of PSYOP material

8. implementation

9. post-testing — evaluates audience responses

10. feedback

(Source: “Psychological Operations (United States)”, Wikipedia)

Work and approval flow for US military psychological operations (PSYOP). US Army FM03–05.30, Psychological Operations (Source: Wikipedia (public domain))

The image below depicts communication that is conceptually similar to Twitter at the tool level but is identical at the biological level of perception (just not as efficient)—Twitter is a one-to-many (asymmetrical, “broadcast”) media vehicle that can be weaponized to influence societal behavior at scale:

U.S. drops propaganda bomb on ISIL: “The leaflets depict recruits to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, being fed into a meat grinder. The leaflets were created by personnel from Military Information Support Operations, previously known as psychological operations.” (Caption and image source: USA Today)

Ok, now pulling a play right out of the Ellul “Propaganda Playbook”:

Another very curious and recent phenomenon is the appearance of “agitators” alongside politicians and political propagandists. The pure agitator, who stirs public opinion in a “disinterested” fashion, functions as a nationalist. He does not appeal to a doctrine or principal, nor does he propose specific reforms. He is the “true” prophet of the American Way of Life. Usually he is against the New Deal and for liberal laissez-faire liberalism; against plutocrats, internationalists, and socialists — bankers and Communists alike are the “hateful other party in spite of which well-informed ‘I’ survives.” The agitator is especially active in the most unorganized groups of the United States. He uses the anxiety psychoses of the lower middle class, the neo-proletarian, the immigrant, the demobilized soldier — people who are not yet integrated into American society or who have not yet adopted ready-made habits and ideas. The agitator uses the American Way of Life to provoke anti-Semitic, anti-Communist, anti-Negro, and xenophobic currents of opinion. He makes groups act in the illogical yet coherent way, Manichaean universe of propagandaThe most remarkable thing about this phenomenon is that these agitators do not work for a political party; it is not clear which interests they serve. They are neither Capitalists or Communists, but they deeply influence American public opinion, and their influence may crystalize in unexpected forms.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1965, p. 69)

…but Ellul’s playbook was powerfully influenced by not only Goebbels but also Hitler himself, who wrote three entire chapters on propaganda in his 720-page autobiography Mein Kampf (trans. “My Struggle”):

Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, 1925, from the Project Gutenberg-hosted 1939 English translation by James Murphy)

Hitler had phenomenal intuition on what to do and how to do it but did not understand why it worked or how to qualitatively weaponize it to take it to the next level because he did not understand the neurobiology of adaptive response and how it recursively feeds back and feeds forward with perceptual apparatus, a sub-discipline of epigenetics, or have access to nascent media technologies. This document will bring that to the fore, later, in spades. Be patient. There is much you need to understand first. The sun will rise but until then it will be a perpetual new moon.

Dust jacket of the book Mein Kampf, written by Adolf Hitler between 1926 and 1927. Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collection. (Source: Wikimedia, (public domain))
The Goebbels logo. Aleksandar Maćašev, a Serbian artist and designer known for his controversial Joseph Goebbels project (2005) in which Joseph Goebbels was depicted as the father of contemporary media culture. (Source: Wikipedia, CC-3.0)

Note: This document is about TIS and its effects on society both good and bad, it is not about partisan politics even obliquely: state-of-the-art propaganda is instrumental to any political success and rudimentary TIS was strategically deployed by both parties with technological efficacy never witnessed in history and will parabolically increase from here. Do not assume this intelligence briefing is “anti-Trump” any more than the intelligence briefing on justice and the US Constitutional crisis was “anti-Clinton.” If you are a Clinton or a Trump supporter please suspend those beliefs and follow this intelligence briefing through the lens of the evolution and deployment of TIS to understand the pervasive effects on society and what is imminently in the pipeline. The only agenda here is articulating the criticality of understanding TIS by any means possible so don’t be offended when the context gets in the face of your beliefs; that is done on purpose to rattle your cage to reach you beyond the intellectual domain to your deeper, reptilian emotional level to invoke “a great awakening.”

Rudimentary building blocks of TIS are becoming ubiquitous and the reason is simple:

  • the tools and methods are low tech but available;
  • nearly everyone on earth is connected;
  • everyone connected is epigenetically vulnerable; and
  • the process works with increasing precision and reliable predictive power due to the synergistic effects of the convergence of software/hardware + cognitive scientific advances, that is, it will become an emergent multi-disciplinary field (i.e. TIS) that was in a limited capacity but still effectively executed during the 2016 election cycle which will be documented here now.

The Washington Post on November 16, 2016 shows 23 Trump Tweets that act as very effective TIS that cost his campaign nothing; if you perceive these communiques through the eyes of TIS rather than wearing dangerous blinders created by the ordinary cognitive filters of agree/disagree or true/false, then you will comprehend that the generation of well over 400 comments within 48 hours is what matters, not facts or the “truth.” Perhaps by epiphany, you will begin to grasp the power tools of influence in the hands of an enlightened propagandist:

It was at this time that Goebbels, who had co-authored the draft programme submitted by the Nazi Left at the Hanover Conference of 1926, called for the expulsion of ‘petty-bourgeois Adolf Hitler from the National Socialist Party’. Goebbels’s shrewd political instinct and his opportunism were demonstrated by his switch to Hitler’s side in 1926, which was rewarded by his appointment in November of the same year as Nazi district leader for Berlin-Brandenburg. By 1927 he had already become the most feared demagogue of the capital city, fully exploiting his deep and powerful voice, rhetorical fervour and unscrupulous appeal to primitive instincts. Goebbels knew how to mobilize the fears of the unemployed masses as the Great Depression hit Germany, playing on the national psyche with ‘ice-cold calculation’.

Note: emphasis mine


Understand: Given [Technology + Message → Neurobiology → Society A → Society B] where: (Technology = media vehicle + finely-tuned (weaponized) language (i.e. semantic payload)).

pre-internet technology (Source: Wikipedia, CC-3.0)
Current state-of-the-art internet technology: Don’t get the idea that “Twitter = Hitler on steroids”; Twitter when used properly is arguably the finest learning tool in history until VR in a gaming environment with vast software libraries comes along to supplant it. A powerful learning tool can just as easily be weaponized and re-purposed as the greatest anti-learning tool in history which it is becoming but also concomitantly with it as a great learning tool. [Ev Williams + Jack Dorsey]
Fred Wilson, an early investor in Twitter, has enormous insight about the magical forces of network effects; he is a prescient investor. Follow him.

Twitter and Facebook should not be vilified any more than your Aunt Josie should be burned at the stake for giving you a cold; they are merely hosts carrying weaponized ideaviruses with DNA origins from Bernays et al that are mutating as we speak — don’t kill the messenger or the media and, as for the message, like the virus that gave you the cold, there is no cure and — rest assured — none is coming.

Is there a further technological evolution on the horizon beyond Twitter given the stakes (money and consolidation of zero-sum power)? Yes. Future commercial opportunities will be assembled in detail in the next major section: The Future. But first there is more you need to know about the present. Actually, quite a bit more if you want to know how and why the future opportunities will emerge and then go Cambrian.

And, once again: By the time you finish this document you will understand that your executive decision-making apparatus is highly vulnerable to subversion or hijack without your awareness or consent — and especially if you are “educated.” Fish should be your last resort to gain insight about water, they are just too immersed, too close to it to see it — and ditto for intellectuals about red herrings schooling in the Seven Seas of Kool-Aid.

Not what you think: Rather than knee-jerk reacting and saying “Trump = Goebbels or Hitler” it is far more important to examine their respective executions of TIS given their knowledge of techniques and available technology. Trump’s team behind the curtain executed high-quality TIS; Trump is the mouthpiece, not the demon. Separate message and delivery technology from messenger, gun from triggerman, and you will know the rules of the inner game of persuasion. (Photos: REUTERS/GETTY | Source: The Daily Beast)

The lion [party?] represented neither the staid Democratic (donkey) or the Republican (elephant) parties; no, instead it coalesced like tiny droplets of liquid mercury into a unified, ad hoc, de facto political party featuring no recognizable backbone that parasitically hijacked a senescent, mortally-wounded host elephant — becoming an invertebrate-lion chimera that magnetically composed a unified nationwide confederation out of thin air from loose iron filings:

A lion in elephant’s clothing: “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”
— Alexander the Great
Secretary Clinton also tapped into propaganda with divisive objectives but instead of galvanizing her supporters behind “the anti-deplorables” flag it backfired and created a massive and emergent following behind Trump that called themselves “The Deplorables” that then created Facebook groups united behind the cause. Many of these new followers came out of thin air — certainly not GOP faithfuls or “stupid white southern Confederate throwbacks with large arsenals.” In the realm of professional propaganda, she committed a fatal error and paid dearly for it. (Source: YouTube (CNN))
Clay Shirky has tremendous vision in how tech really works on the social level with the hood up, especially the emergence of groups via social media out of thin air if there is a common purpose, paralleling John Robb’s military concept of open source insurgency. Read Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.

“Deplorables Unite” became a massive ground swell of new or emotionally-charged support (= newly minted lion party voters) on Facebook which cascaded through people’s existing Facebook Friends going well beyond two-degree of separation on the FB social graphs. Tee-shirts and other paraphernalia were sold in support of the cause triggered by the polarizing sociological effects that viralized and helped monetize the lion party’s recruiting efforts. Clinton apologized for the “deplorables” comment after discovering that the tactic backfired but that genie was out and had already granted three deplorable wishes to her enemies.

Question: If the tactic had worked in her favor, do you think she would have apologized? If you say yes, why?

[Facebook search criteria: “Trump Deplorables”]

“Fake News”: A Classic Statecraft Misdirect and Naiveté Writ Large

What, prey tell, explains how David took down Goliath? The ragtag lion coalition of “rebels with causes” and Deplorables with axes to grind had the secret sauce: TIS. Social media was the sling and sharp messages were the rocks and together they tattooed “TIS” right between her eyes:

Mark Zuckerberg is trying hard to convince voters that Facebook had no nefarious role in this election. “Our biggest incubator that allowed us to generate that money was Facebook,” says Parscale, who has been working for the campaign since before Trump officially announced his candidacy a year and a half ago. “Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing,” he says. “Twitter for Mr. Trump. And Facebook for fundraising.” They noted how Clinton spent more than $200 million on television ads in the final months of the election while Trump spent less than half that. Because Trump wasn’t spending as much on television all along, it seemed like his team wasn’t investing in changing anyone’s minds. But they were: they were just doing it online.

Coby’s team took full advantage of the ability to perform massive tests with its ads. On any given day, Coby says, the campaign was running 40,000 to 50,000 variants of its ads, testing how they performed in different formats, with subtitles and without, and static versus video, among other small differences. On the day of the third presidential debate in October, the team ran 175,000 variations. Coby calls this approach “A/B testing on steroids.” The more variations the team was able to produce, Coby says, the higher the likelihood that its ads would actually be served to Facebook users. “Every ad network and platform wants to serve the ad that’s going to get the most engagement,” Coby says.

(Source: WIRED, Issie Lapowsky, November 15, 2016, “Here’s How Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency”)

This is the network structure of both political media campaign propaganda strategies: MSM are the big, old-school broadcasting networks near the center dominated by DNC influence per the WikiLeaks disclosures and then there are smaller but still substantial alternative media sites and then an extremely long tail of interconnections of small sites and social media where the RNC took the fight. The “underground” more bidirectional communications (blogs with comments) and social media won this round — both campaigns use dis/misinformation (“fake news”) to influential the electorate using different tools. Which regions are RED and which are BLUE? (Source: spatial map by Jonathan Albright, assistant professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, “Google, democracy and the truth about internet search”, The Guardian)

[Enlarge the above image]

The “shocking result” given that The New York Times predicted a 85% chance for victory the day before the election quickly turned to the issue of the influence of “fake news” on the election outcome. Every story from mainstream media (MSM) to alternative media was focused on “how can we eliminate fake news?” or witch-hunting Mark Zuckerberg et al; this wavelength of thought presumes that fake news must be quelled no matter the cost (which is beyond calculation). This thinking is correct if news = truth matters. But through the lens of reality — meaning surgical-strike propaganda — this view is gravely naive. What, you say? Truth doesn’t matter?

Here is a brief primer through the lens of reality that incorporates TIS, which spawned in embryonic form in George Orwell’s novel 1984:

The first-edition front cover of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four first published in 1949. (Source: Wikipedia (public domain))

1984 has four themes:

  1. Nationalism;
  2. Futurology;
  3. Censorship; and
  4. Surveillance

(Source: 1984, Wikipedia)

All of these themes are intertwined and managed with communication through the “Ministry of Truth” which is brilliantly crafted and executed propaganda. Nationalism has already been addressed. In review, Goebbels, Hitler, and Ellul created the operating principles and contemporary examples of Nationalism are:

  1. Bush: “With us or against us”;
  2. Trump: “Building a wall” (literal or figurative xenophobia); and
  3. Clinton: “Basket of deplorables” or, more refined: “I’m with HER (and, therefore, NOT with…).”
The relentless barrage of semantic payloads. | (DIS)INFORMATION: Mutually Assured Mental Destruction, Alicia Wanless, (Source :La Generalista)

Question: Who do you think creates the semantic payloads?

Hint: Not the candidates.

All of these statements are crafted to trigger target audiences to take sides (polarize into tribes and fight for me, for us, for our country, our way of life, our flag, etc.).

From 1984’s Ministry of Truth:

The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Part II, Chapter IX — “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism”, which is from a “nonfiction book within a fictional novel” written by a character in 1984)

To help help you grasp the scale of global naiveté in proper context, this is from Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries:

The World Wide Web offers information and data from all over the world. Because so much information is available, and because that information can appear to be fairly “anonymous”, it is necessary to develop skills to evaluate what you find. When you use a research or academic library, the books, journals and other resources have already been evaluated by scholars, publishers and librarians. Every resource you find has been evaluated in one way or another before you ever see it. A lot of great information can be found online, but it’s trickier to know what has been peer-reviewed online and what has not, because anyone can write a web page. Excellent resources reside along side the most dubious. The Internet epitomizes the concept of caveat lector: let the reader beware.


What constitutes a good fake is how well it resembles the real thing.

Propaganda is defined as the “systematic propagation of information or ideas by an interested party, esp. in a tendentious way in order to encourage or instill a particular attitude or response. Also, the ideas, doctrines, etc., disseminated thus; the vehicle of such propagation.” (from Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989)

Misinformation is defined as the action of misinforming or condition of being misinformed; or erroneous or incorrect information. Misinformation differs from propaganda in that it always refers to something which is not true. It differs from disinformation in that it is “intention neutral”: it isn’t deliberate, it’s just wrong or mistaken.

Never underestimate the evil intentions of some individuals or institutions to say or write whatever suits a particular purpose, even when it requires deliberate fabrication. Disinformation refers to disseminating deliberately false information, especially when supplied by a government or its agent to a foreign power or on the media with the intention of influencing policies of those who receive it.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Johns Hopkins University (Sheridan Libraries), Information and Its Counterfeits: Propaganda, Misinformation and Disinformation)

Which takes us from the clinical world of “fact checking (think safe sex)” in academic settings where credibility and truth means everything to the nasty swamp of unrestrained, feral TIS where truth is for losers which was lucidly foreshadowed by:

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

— William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

In other words, when black is white and white is black (“blackwhite”), we will finally have achieved harmony from some alien perspective.

“BLACK is WHITE” | Logo for INGSOC political party in 1984. (used in 1984 film adaptation) (Source: Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 3.0)

To understand how pervasively polls were manipulated see the following WikiLeaks page and click on the “Attachments” tab and download the leaked document explaining how to design polling strategies in every state with granularity down to district and socioeconomic level with explicit coaching instructions. Then, from the skewed polls, MSM in a unified way ceaselessly broadcasted that Trump had no serious chance of winning by referencing doctored polls across the country and how his numbers were trending downward. This is textbook system-level propaganda invoked by the DNC. The DNC had a strategy and the lion party had a strategy. Both propaganda strategies were arm wrestling and the lion party won, this time.

Now this from The Washington Post

Wouldn’t be accurate (prescient!) if it said 100% instead? (Source: The Washington Post)

And this from The Wall Street Journal:

Is it always this black and white, so obvious once someone lifts the veil? Unfortunately, no. Once you see it, there is no cognitive undo, you get it. WikiLeaks — provided you drilled down and studied it — slayed any futile attempt at labeling it a “conspiracy theory.” In fact, the term “conspiracy theory” until recently was effective disinformation but people now see through it.

Provides a bridge between evolutionary neurobiology + societal cohesion and modern propaganda methodologies. Machiavellian Intelligence II: Extensions and Evaluations

The most dangerous form of fake news is disinformation, a tentacle of effective propaganda perhaps evolutionarily derivative of Machiavellian intelligence and it is not only not going to go away but is, instead, going to become ubiquitous and increasingly undetectable and extend way beyond the scope of politics. TIS is about influence in general including:

  • why you buy Coke instead of Pepsi;
  • why Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (The UN (Powell’s speech) + NYT were functionally bullhorns for a global-scale PSYOP);
  • why assault rifles with magazines larger than 5 rounds should be banned;
  • why the Patriot Act is necessary to preserve the American way of life;
  • why Putin is the anti-Christ; and
  • why you buy US Treasury bonds and shun gold, a useless barbaric relic.

In this election cycle, was disinformation disseminated from some central vantage point like a military Command-Control-Communication and Intelligence (C3I) operation? Or was it bottoms up? It was both from both combatants. Mostly it was produced organically — bottoms up — from grassroots. The net effect, if you didn’t know better, seemed magical, even spooky. Many incentives drove it, much of it elementary supply-and-demand economics because high traffic = advertisement revenue from FB and Google for myriad, opportunist, drive-by, clickbait artists, disinterested operators who had no idea how they played (and were played!) an instrumental role in the propaganda ecosystem. But don’t be fooled; savvy political wordsmiths enlightened by highly-targeted focus groups (e.g. Facebook communities) were involved heavily per the reference earlier about Trump’s “A/B testing on steroids” op within the social media sphere. As for so-called “fake news” all you need in America today is to double-tap your iPhone when you see:

“JUST IN: Photos of Hillary in a Hot Tub Naked with the Rock AND Kid Rock”

Shocking? Indeed. (Duh.) You may not click on it but you would find it near the top of the queue in a vanilla, Google Assistant or Siri voice search and thousands would click on it and — much more importantly — they would FB share it, email reply-all it and re-Tweet it just because. FB and Google are only the host organisms carrying idea-viruses, spam-bearing mules-for-hire of sorts. But there is lot more to this with far greater stakes than the presence of disinformation which is old news, really. Think Bernays during the Roaring Twenties.

(Source: BuzzFeed News)

Timing, of course, is everything:

(Source: BuzzFeed News)

What is much more important than disinformation is censorship, #3 on Orwell’s 1984 list. After the incredible buzz about fake news which is dis/misinformation right out of Goebbels’ playbook, the tribal cry right on cue was to pin blame and fix it: “Off with ______ head!

Here is the censorship playbook:

  1. A black list of fake news sites comes out-of-the-blue (damn, that was fast!).
  2. They are first vilified then
  3. Tarred and feathered so that the masses will only have access to real news whilst being vigilant of new black news sites as they pop up (i.e. goal = only white information sites exist that exercise behavior like this for example).
Note: Some of these sites did produce disinformation so this is not a list of just true sources. (Source: ZeroHedge)
Notice ZeroHedge is on the list! I consider them the best site there is for the unvarnished truth at the deep-insight level for the global economic and financial realms. (Source: ZeroHedge)

The next step was making this list into a form where action can be taken to censor them (converted to computer readable .yaml format and readily available on github (don’t blame Github, just a tool)). The action would be some form of quarantine like advising readers of their “thoughtcrimes” (independent thinking = “thoughtcrime") at the browser-level or outright preventing them access to advertisement revenue from FB, Google, etc. thus starving them into extinction.

So what’s not to like? Good riddance, right?

There is more than one level of propaganda in play. Mis/disinformation, aka “fake news,” is small ball given the big picture. The big leagues here was the extremely rare opportunity for the masses to gain visibility into the Ministry of Truth circa 2016. Wikileaks gave the public access to politics stripped naked of the serpentine mask of propaganda. Many of the sites that understood the incalculable value of WikiLeaks are on the black list. None of the sites on the “white list” (i.e. white list = the news sites exposed by WikiLeaks) focused on the significance of WikiLeaks. Here is a metaphor to help you grasp the gravity of this perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gifted by egregious data security gaffes by the DNC:

  • The goldfish are the DNC and MSM (the RNC goldfish bowl is not available but that would reveal a different can of worms).
  • The cat is you watching how political machinery really works.
  • The fishbowl is WikiLeaks (normally the glass would be opaque).

WikiLeaks was the most dominant factor in the election — a tsunamic revelation creating a vast asymmetry in the form of a nuclear truth bomb — and it makes no difference whatsoever whether the leaked documents exposing the DNC were gifted by Russians or Martians; what mattered was: (1) their content; and (2) who was assessing their merits:

Human cognition values confirmation of existing seated beliefs by a wide margin compared to overwhelming evidence of absolute truth to the contrary — truth simply is not highly valued by the human mind, a dangerous and highly exploitable counterintuitive discovery well known to those who engineer TIS. There will never be an opportunity again on this vast experimental scale to test that hypothesis. The confirmation bias hypothesis given the data shows that Democrats shunned the findings exposed by WikiLeaks whereas Republicans were highly attracted even after prior extraordinary avoidance. (Source: YouGov)
Did Russia/Putin have involvement in influencing the elections? Most likely not but, in any case, proving attribution of hacking by a world-class state actor is a fool’s errand and in this case a perfect opportunity to wield as powerful propaganda — “Putin did it.” (See intelligence briefing on cyberterrorism). The point here, however, is the favorability of Putin radically increased amongst Republicans and decreased with Democrats in a classic polarizing response relative to prevailing beliefs, more evidence supporting the confirmation bias hypothesis even with a high likelihood of Putin having no real effect whatsoever — just the association of this factor either agreeing or disagreeing with your current belief causes polarization. Once again, truth is irrelevant, your current anchored belief is the sole determinant. If CNN or the NYT said with a straight face Martians did it you would see a similar divergence but just not as pronounced.

Now a flashback to the 1960–70s with Walter Cronkite at CBS doing real news:

Take note of the following historical events: Watergate @2:33; DNC riot @4:00, and Vietnam @5:28. (Source: CBS News (WatchMojo))

Question: If Walter Cronkite were allowed to do news his way today, would he have drilled down on WikiLeaks or ignored it entirely like MSM did? (WHITE = WHITE OR BLACK = WHITE?)

Now this is how CNN did damage control because of the embarrassing fishbowl (i.e. BLACK = WHITE):

Extraordinary Orwellian moment shamelessly plagiarized right out of 1984.

Now here is Ron Paul explaining the significance of WikiLeaks (i.e. WHITE = WHITE):

Ron Paul was never a Republican per se, he is a Constitutionalist at heart — big difference. (Second source if that one is “removed”: YouTube)
Source: James Fallows

The following list was sourced by Ron Paul Liberty Report re: WikiLeaks to provide concrete evidence that these “journalists” from these “news sites” are not worthy of your trust:

Source: Ron Paul Liberty Page

Question: How many of these “journalists” were fired? The answer to that question you need to think about.

A pretext of obvious “fake news” opens the door to gutting black-listed sites promoting truth (as well as fake sites) leaving only the MSM propaganda sites roaming the earth which very quickly escalates to this if unchecked:

Iraq’s Minister of Propaganda: Yes, the world was laughing at “Comical Ali” but Iraqis were not laughing and were shocked to see their flag come down. He had a potent sphere of influence that is hard for us to imagine but our own MSM is moving quickly in Ali’s direction. The difference between “Comical Ali’s” propaganda and the propaganda we witnessed with American MSM this election cycle differed in degree, not kind. Censorship clears the way for Society A → Society B. Leave Facebook, Google, and Twitter alone. Yes, of course, “Houston we have a problem,” but no, allow society to self-correct via natural selection.

Recall: [Iraq: pretext(WMD (“fake evidence”)) → rally “the free world” behind the flag → Start war → ⥀ → Mission Accomplished]

Two Tweets captures the dynamics of the game elegantly:

Follow Naval Ravikant, he has great insights that transcend tech.

Questions: Is the quarantined black list really the white list that will be censored? Is the white list (MSM) really the black list (an appendage of the Ministry of Truth that will then become your sole source of “truth” after censorship?)

Hint: Forget about “candidates” or your political leanings which only deflects attention towards noise and think only about signal: the difference between unvarnished truth and falsehood.

Now we are going to gain altitude from 10,000 feet and climb to the 30,000 foot view to see how the world works from the topdown and inside-out. Pay close attention. This is Control Systems Engineering 101.

Propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation at the systems-level of the political apparatus are outputs. TIS = outputs from this vantage point. TIS is necessary but insufficient to control society. To have a societal control system you also need inputs and a regulatory system with feedback loops to steer society slowly but surely in the direction you desire. This is cybernetics-at-scale [cybernetics from Greek kybernetes “steersman” (metaphorically “guide, governor]. Here is a metaphor from the perspective of the puppeteer (“governor”):

  • the puppet is society;
  • the puppeteer (not shown) is the controlling agency (TPTB making decisions and not necessarily elected officials or even people you have even heard of);
  • the strings are outputs (TIS) (function like your muscles) that animate the puppet to and fro; and
  • surveillance is inputs [eyes and ears (i.e. “senses”) that indicate behavior at individual and group levels (and will be in real-time and plug into everyone as technology progresses; think of the Internet of Things + smartphones as flies on the wall)]
Source: Jester marionette

In other words, TIS pulls your strings [e.g. “pushes your buttons” and polarizes you like iron fillings to take sides for candidate A (the North pole) or B (the South pole) by exploiting your intrinsic biological vulnerability of tribalism]. Of course, TIS extends way beyond politics into all spheres of modern life (addressed in The Future coming up soon now.

By the way, the fourth theme of 1984 is surveillance; Orwell coined the term “Big Brother.” What does that mean and how does that fit in?

Let’s use the cat metaphor but with roles reversed now. (The beautiful gift of WikiLeaks is gone.)

  • The goldfish are members of society (not just “Americans” either).
  • The cat is Big Brother.
  • The fishbowl is surveillance.

Surveillance. How does that work? Surveillance is the sensory apparatus of the “governor” part of the system. That means the intelligence community, a large network that has more arms than an octopus’ eight, 17 to be exact:

Office of the Director of National Intelligence |

The goal of Big Brother is “nothing is beyond our reach” [of our eyes and ears]:

NRO is the National Reconnaissance Office which launched 12 satellites in 2013 to be eyes-in-the-sky. There are a lot more than these eyes-in-the-sky plus a growing domestic drone program for law enforcement. (Source: US NRO)

That’s the eyes part. The network is vast, a lot more than you can imagine. The bandwidth of intelligence traffic over their current network probably was in the range of the entire global internet going back not too many years. This is just the NSA part of the octopus:

Source: Pronk Palisades

Data funnels into the NSA Utah Data Center (below) via PRISM (Edward Snowden’s release of slides on PRISM now on Wikipedia):

(Source: Pronk Palisades)

The octopus has tentacles traversing the US with several arms and then has underseas cable inputs for Atlantic and Pacific traffic:

Source: Pronk Palisades

The ears part is the part you kick into the kitty, your gift (insiders call this “data exhaust”) for the observant cat: texts, emails, videos, transactions, etc. which feed into the ravenous octopus — please don’t be naive. Upgrades are in the pipeline on a global scale (not to be exhaustive here: this is representative of the tip of the iceberg of what is in the public domain: follow Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks on Twitter @Snowden + @WikiLeaks):

Joseph Cox
Notice the capture of governmental “psychological methods” and “psychological controltechniques.

Ok. We are almost back to The Future. Let’s finish this section off with some important crimethought and blackwhite

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are both enemies of the state, forced into exile in Moscow and the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, respectively.

Question: Are Assange and Snowden black or white?

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

Søren Kierkegaard


Democratic Party (1828–2016)

Republican Party (1854–2016)

Why the tombstones? In the future, successful political parties will form and dissolve on demand because of TIS as showcased by the sudden emergence of a new species of body politic: the “lion party.” Certainly what-you-call-it matters (powerful and simple memes are critical for virality), but what has the most impact is how well you use TIS as a tool given the state of the nation in realtime synchronously with your ability to measure the efficacy of different messages (A/B testing in a Darwinian environment) and then to amplify the messages that gain the most traction within the target electorate better than your enemy. On a grand scale, it is an example in military parlance of John Boyd’s OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) which, in this context, is the integration of:

Control System = TIS (Act) + Surveillance aka “Big Brother” (Observe) + “Governor” (Orient + Decide)

where Act is targeted at epigenetic modification of the neurobiology of perception/belief systems at the individual level, Observe captures societal responses to TIS outcomes and Orient + Decide manage societal trajectory [explore: Boyd OODA Loop]:

Source: HROARR

“Knowledge is not power.
Power alone is power.
What knowledge does is provide the means to determine where to focus that power, for maximum effect.”

Carl von Clausewitz

Source: Czech jester

“In almost every act of our lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”

— Edward Bernays, 1928

Now we are going to leap into the future of the forces of influence…



Summary of Present

Efficacy of TIS (Present) = [Military contributions+ political semantic refinements + Machiavellian intelligence + McLuhan + Orwell (build-out of governmental societal control system) + digital social media technology(TWTR, FB, primitive socialbot coordination with manual regulatory feedback)]

Source: Accenture

The Future

Introducing the Future

Where are we headed? To answer that we need to know where we came from from yet another historical thread and then connect that to where we are now; this will then provide firm foundation for cogent extrapolation into a near-term, time horizon of highly-probable TIS events. As you have witnessed on your journey from past to present thus far, there are two perspectives and they are radically polar at that: good and evil. Pandora’s box was harbor to both, not just dark matters. Both will exist simultaneously just like cyberspace-at-large re: the risks of cyberterrorism. Once again: All powerful technologies can be used in the service of either good or evil agents, it all depends on the agency’s directives, not the intrinsic nature of the tool in hand.

Computation vs. Judgment

Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation (1976)

In 1976 Joseph Weizenbaum, first a professor at MIT and then a Fellow of the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, wrote an important book called Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation that was enormously prescient; it is one of the most important books every written about the relationship of human beings to technology. Although not about propaganda per se et al when it was written, Weizenbaum understood propaganda first hand because he was born in Berlin in 1923 and lived through the transition of Weimar Germany’s depression to Goebbel’s and Hitler’s Third Reich before immigrating to the US in 1936. He was only 13 years old but he witnessed first hand what happens when loose iron filings become magnetized, energized, and polarized iron fillings in the blink of any eye:

Was he the first person to see the connection between propaganda and the potential of computers as a tool to leverage TIS to the moon spearheaded with diabolical aim?

His insights underwrite TIS because without reliance on computational algorithms, which have evolved exponentially since the 1970s, we wouldn’t be where we are now and certainly not where we are going. He had the foresight into the wildly divergent consequences of computation vs. judgment, of computer algorithm vs. biological cognition in the decision making process and he also gleaned radical insight into society’s growing dependence on algorithmic computation, something that did not exist in the 1970s at the societal level. In stark contrast, fast forward to contemporary society and we (certainly Millennials and subsequent generations) cannot imagine what it would be like to function without Google, Facebook, and Amazon but soon that will frictionlessly morph into myriad aspects of AI derivatives like Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa and other forms of voice-command bots without physical forms + voice-command bots embodied in physical forms [(ro)bots] as they go from evolutionary versions 2.0 to 2.1 to 3.0, etc. They are coming. Fast. But what will they do and what does it mean? How do they fit into the evolution of TIS and its liftoff parabolic trajectory to the TIS zenith?

To give you insight into Weizenbaum’s radical prescience, he placed the following work of artist George Grosz’s 1920 masterpiece “Republican Automatons” across from the title page in his work which is about the impact of propaganda on societal behavior as witnessed during the rise of the Third Reich:

“Republican Automatons”, 1920. (Source: on public display at MoMA | © 2016 Estate of George Grosz)

… “Republican Automatons” where all the human figures are overly rounded, blank mannequins. Their thoughts are fed to them, and their actions prompted by the gears at the lower right, suggesting the utter emptiness of a seemingly meaningful gesture — the waving of the [German] flag. The city scape is again a conspicuous feature, suggesting that somehow the city is to blame for the citizenry’s inability to self-actuate.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Bitter Laughter (blog))

Professor Weizenbaum saw TIS coming long before yours truly.

Source: Czech jester

You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto (2010). (Source: Amazon)

Since Weizenbaum in the 1970s, two other scientists bear mention in my opinion of their critical insights and contributions germane to the subject at hand before exploring extant technology and its future role in TIS. First is Jaron Lanier who currently works at Microsoft. He is the visionary in the 1980s who either coined or popularized the term “virtual reality” and, like Weizenbaum, draws sharp distinction and warning between the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms vs. the intelligence and judgment of humans. In his first book, You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto, he lucidly addresses what happens when society stops shaping technology and technology starts shaping us.

Lanier opens Pandora’s box of human perceptual vulnerability and consequent adaptive behavioral response with:

When I work with experimental digital gadgets, like new variations on virtual reality, in a lab environment, I am always reminded of how small changes in the details of a digital design can have profound unforeseen effects on the experiences of the humans who are playing with it. The slightest change in something as seemingly trivial as the ease of use of a button can sometimes alter behavior patterns.

(Source: You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto, Jaron Lanier, 2010, p. 4, Borzoi Books)

TIS going forward is about the aggregation of serendipitous discoveries like this — which are endless — along with evolutionary, stepwise improvements in the understanding and relentless domestication of human biological perceptual apparatus and its adaptive response from the triggering of inherent neural circuitry caught unawares. As these models and discoveries cross thresholds in tandem with better hardware, AI, and social media advances like [virtual reality → networked virtual reality], the resultant behavior modification of: [society A → society B] in the context of TIS accelerates. Gaming technology will play a large role in this process as well as supersized-simulations. And then, of course, there is the bot and (ro)bot revolution. All of this will be explored shortly. First some more background on what makes humans human.

The related topics of truth, falsity, authenticity, credibility and counterfeit (“fake” etc.) were discussed earlier with respect to the overarching umbrella of propaganda and dis/misinformation but only superficially with respect to our biological vulnerabilities. Computer technology (hardware + software) many people know; the flip-side — the actual target, our biology — is a black box not only to society but to technologists as well. The future of TIS computing is an entirely new AI game, a game focused on influencing the belief systems of the human organism in a [beneficial OR nefarious] way depending on the objective of the operators.

[AI deep learning (game = modify belief systems):: game environs (algorithms ⇄ targeted neurological sub-systems)]

The key to everything is the biological basis of trust and trust, which underwrites commitment, bonding, tribalism, and — at the civilization-level of complexity — law. Law acts as a surrogate form of trust for larger groups beyond the span-of-control of indigenous group sizes such as 150 — Dunbar’s number — which seems to be an upper-bound for “unwritten laws” to sustain a stable social structure:

In recent years, Dunbar has taken his idea further by taking into account the emotional closeness between individuals. This has led him to the idea of Dunbar layers: that an individual’s group of 150 contacts is layered according to the strength of emotional ties.

Individuals, he says, generally have up to five people in the closest layer. The next closest layer contains an additional 10, the one beyond that an extra 35, and the final group another 100. So cumulatively, the layers contain five, 15, 50, and 150 people.

(Source: MIT Technology Review, April 29, 2016, “Your Brain Limits You to Just Five BFFs”)

The reason for introducing the Dunbar number is that it represents the maximal span of control for human neurobiology to manage the social graph of inter-relationships before the baton must be passed to the first hierarchical layer of trust beyond our inherent biology which is law and enforcement of said laws. The theoretical possibility that properties of trust can be made scale-free by something like blockchain technology (i.e. beyond the scope of law whose efficacy and fidelity is precariously dependent on uncorrupted human behavior) will also be discussed.

Language [i.e. communication via symbols within a semantic web | References: Surfaces and Essences + The Symbolic Species] is vital for societal cohesion because without language there is no law and without law civilization collapses back to tribes or families just like other mammals (Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” aka “Theory of Higher Needs” underwrites this; without trust an empty belly get the better of self-actualization or playing Angry Birds ’til the cows come home).

Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships (2012).

An excellent book that explores the foundational evolutionary characteristics defining the lower bound of trust on the continuum between pair bonding and human societies is Dario Maestripieri’s Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships. Maestripieri reveals a startling antecedent of the deeper origins of trust that are every bit as relevant today but, more importantly, illuminate why trust is breaking down rapidly in today’s turbulent TIS environs:

[Male baboons have] come up with an unusual way to deal with the commitment problem: they fondle each other’s testicles. Other primates are also known to engage in similar practices. In ancient Rome, two men taking an oath of allegiance held each other’s testicles; men held their own testicles as a sign of truthfulness while bearing witness in a public forum (hence the word “testify”). The behavior of male baboons and ancient Romans can be explained by the Handicap Principle, a biological theory according to which the most effective way to obtain reliable information about a partner’s commitment in a relationship — is to impose a cost on the partner’s willingness to pay for it.


When two baboon’s fondle each other’s genitalia, they take a huge risk. Each baboon could quickly and easily terminate the other’s reproductive career for good by ripping his testicles off.

(Source: Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships, Dario Maestripieri, 2012, p. 171 and 175, respectively, Basic Books)

When we speak of trust, this behavior — however bizarre it seems to digital man — is the root of trust and will always remain so. Language is a very shaky surrogate of trust when compared to the mutual exchange of great risk of serious bodily harm. It expressed a more reliable and meaningful message of: “Look, if things turn bleak in the fox hole I have proven to you [not merely “said so!”] that I have your back.” So, why does this matter?

What we are experiencing at the present time in Western societies is the onset of the breakdown of trust in our institutions and society at large. “Fake news” is only a symptom and predicting the future is easy because we are following in China’s footsteps. While the West is in transition from an authentic democratic (i.e. republic) form of government on rapid decline to some Orwellian form of governance (think “governor” vis-à-vis the octopus or, speaking plainly, behold a “fake democracy”), China has been moving from absolute communism to some form of government with properties of a free market featuring upward socioeconomic opportunity in some capacity. But trust does not exist at the societal-level in China in any meaningful way:

In China, that foundation of reality is eroded alongside trust in institutions previously tasked with upholding the truth. Contrary to popular sentiment in the US, Chinese readers don’t blindly trust the state-run media. Rather, they distrust it so much that they don’t trust any form of media, instead putting their faith in what their friends and family tell them. No institution is trusted enough to act as a definitive fact-checker, and so it’s easy for misinformation to proliferate unchecked.

This has been China’s story for decades. In 2016, it is starting to be the US’ story as well.

(Source: Christina Xu, Freelance ethnographer/writer thinking about online and offline communities and social uses of technology, “Watching the Election from The Post-Truth Future”)

Trust has fallen off a cliff because the recent tsunami of over-the-top MSM propaganda has finally hit some imaginary believability ceiling: the limits of what a human mind is capable of believing relative to its detachment from reality can be quite astounding, yet we, somehow, managed to break through that barrier:

The DNC had firm command of the legacy MSM propaganda apparatus in this election cycle and the Republican electorate saw through it and migrated “underground” to social media where the RNC focused efforts online. (Source: GALLUP)
Balaji S. Srinivasan may be on the right track.

Now, putting this together — a provisional working model of the trust continuum for global society cobbling together evolutionary insights while bridging to theoretical and futuristic technological advances:

[TRUST (highest): mother-baby (instinctual) → pair-bonding (sex) → family (pair + offspring) → relatives (blood relations) → tribe (mandatory alignment of principle beliefs, requires symbolic language based on semantics) → town (beliefs less aligned, geographical radius is small, contact is face-to-face) → nation (wide range of beliefs, requires laws and enforcement, geographical radius is large, media is virtual) → global-scale (not blockchain but analogous?, requires mathematical expression (i.e. post-semantic, trans-human dependence to guarantee high-fidelity of trust)):(lowest)]

Question: Where are we now on the societal trust barometer?

The case of black = white: ostensibly Jon Stewart is a comedian with satirical discourse extraordinaire but Americans quickly realized that really he is the most trusted source of real news in America (and that was 2009 before the MSM propaganda machine became as comical as Comical Ali):

When false narratives and comedians are championed, the public at large stops relying on publications and networks who attempt to pass themselves off as “real news” but who in fact either ignore or simply don’t care about information they put out because of an ideological bias.

(Source: Heat Street, November 19, 2016, “The Mainstream Media Has Only Itself to Blame for the ‘Fake News’ Epidemic”)

In the US, society will eventually distrust information of at-arm’s-length digital origin and force a descent to the Dunbar number, our neurological upper-bound, unless there is a sea change backed with serious teeth. But before the “trust bubble” pops much is going to happen because the TIS tsunami cometh to a digital device near you.

Question: Can you handle the truth? Or is that question now quaint and is the better question at this point: Is black white and white black yet?

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

— William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

Trust, Technology, and the Technology of Hacking Trust, Part 1

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011).

Now that you know the history of the roots of TIS we are prepared to examine another crucial vulnerability in evolutionary mammalian biology: pair bonding which scaffolds to the family unit and onto tribalism and beyond. There is no work in this vital field I respect more than Sherry Turkle’s, a clinical psychologist and professor at MIT and director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self. Her expertise is a deep and prolific boots-on-the-ground grasp of the human-technology interface and her frightening discoveries on how our innate trust vulnerabilities blindside us in this capacity. In many ways her work is a quantum leap forward from the beach head established by Marshall McLuhan’s insight on the role that media plays on our perception independent of the message in his classic book The Medium Is the Massage in 1967 (massage not message!). Turkle’s superb book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is already a classic and a must-read for anyone wanting to survive what’s coming:

In the 1960s through the 1980s debates about artificial intelligence centered on the question whether machines could “really” be intelligent. These discussions were about the objects themselves, what they could and could not do. Our new encounters with social robots — encounters that began in the past decade with the introduction of simple robot toys into children’s playrooms — provoke responses that are not about these machines’ capabilities but our vulnerabilities. As we will see, when we are asked to care for an object, when an object thrives under our care, we experience that object as intelligent, but, more importantly, we feel ourselves to be in a relationship with it. The attachments I describe do not follow from whether computational objects really have emotion or intelligence, because they do not. The attachments follow from what they evoke in their users. Our new objects don’t so much “fool us” into thinking they are communicating with us; roboticists have learned these few triggers that help us fool ourselves. We don’t need much. We are ready to enter the romance.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkel, p. 20, Basic Books, 2011)

[Hot spot: Alone Together word frequency:: 27 instances of:(vulnerabilit(ies) + vulnerable)]

Sample research on improving human-machine relationships:

Measuring the anthropomorphism, animacy, likeability, perceived intelligence, and perceived safety of robots,” Bartlick, Kulick, and Croft (Source: (pdf))

Given the biology of perception, what form factors are best to enhance our involuntary acceptance of alien forms?:

Mori’s Uncanny Valley (2005). Original paper trans. from Japanese to English. (Source: Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

Understand: At this point in the presentation we are not factoring in AI (e.g. machine/deep learning, etc.) in a gaming context in light of insights gleaned from embodied cognition and evolutionary neurobiology vis-à-vis state-of-the-art propaganda technology. Merely on form factor and motion patterns alone, whether in 2 or 3D environs, we are vulnerable to surprisingly inexpensive Trojan horses that gain access to our Achilles heel of the mind via permanent backdoors if you are privy to the right tricks. All that is needed is an adorable and animated piece of plastic controlled by a few garden-variety chips:

“Hello, my name is Pandora.”

“I am here to help. I see no evil, hear no evil, or speak no evil, by the way. Got it?” (Source: TechGYD)

Trust, Technology, and the Technology of Hacking Trust, Part 2

Neuroscience and Media: New Understandings and Representations, 2015

Propaganda is communication that utilizes your personal belief system to affect group cohesion, creating either cognitive dissonance or cognitive consonance. Is this definition consistent with our biology and our history? The modern use of the term propaganda is generally placed back to 1622, when Pope Gregory XV established the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide). This group propagated ideas that directly utilized people’s belief systems. These ideas generally increased the cohesion of Catholics and disrupted the cohesion of people who were not Catholics. If the propaganda was effective, it caused cognitive consonance or cognitive dissonance, depending on which group you were in.

(Source: Neuroscience and Media: New Understandings and Representations, “ On the Origins of Propaganda: Bio-Cultural and Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Cohesion”, p. 116, Bob Schapiro and Stanley H. Ambrose, Michael Grabowski (editor), 2015, Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies)

Cohesive cognitive states in a social group reflect conditional physical cohesiveness that is conserved from insects to primates: mind and body in the discipline of embodied cognition are integrally intertwined (i.e. indivisible) and the nervous system exists to coordinate effective behaviors of the physical body (even insects have rudimentary cognitive states):

Clearly there is an additional element at work. The late Neal Postman and his New York University colleague Terence Moran find that element in the context of answers to the following questions that create one’s personal belief system.

Who am I? (A son or daughter, a wife or husband, a citizen, a farmer, a lawyer, an inventor.)

Where do I come from? (What group am I in? Where does the group come from?)

What is my status? (My rank; my place within the group.)

What is my quest? (What am I supposed to do?)

(Source: Neuroscience and Media: New Understandings and Representations, “ On the Origins of Propaganda: Bio-Cultural and Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Cohesion”, p. 114, Bob Schapiro and Stanley H. Ambrose, Michael Grabowski (editor), 2015, Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies)

The second means of hacking human trust is by accessing the fundamentals of our identity, that is, who we really think we are for real sans mask, things we would only tell our spouse or closest human confidant. That is the key to more than our hearts and minds, it is also the key to our pocket books. As you might have guessed, we are more than happy to offer that up on a silver platter (and that is just the beginning of our journey together with our new network of helpful friends).

We are just getting started. Wait for it…

“Hello, my name is Pandora.”

“What’s your name?”

“I do not talk to say something, but to obtain specific information, do you copy?”

A Little Bit About AI and How It Will Impact Your Life

One thing is certain: the future of AI at the highest level will not be incremental changes to present approaches. The level of complexity that computer science has taken us so far, from Alan Turing and John von Neumann to ARPANET to today — the internet + web et al — has now become complex enough to qualify as rudimentary models of biological cognitive function on the low-end of the evolutionary totem pole:

Source: The Artifical Intelligence Revolution
The progression of AI has now arrived at deep learning, a sub-class of “machine learning” based on the earlier concept of neural nets only now has the processing power and speed to have multiple layers. (Source: NVIDIA)

Here is the universe of machine intelligence:

The universe of machine intelligence. (Source: Shivon Zilas | O’Reilly | Tim O’Reilly)

Deep learning has become the defining trajectory of computer science affecting nearly every business category and these companies are representative of just an early vanguard; once open-source tools are robust, powerful and ubiquitous expect for this field to become Cambrian explosive:

Deep learning start ups. (Source: CB Insights)

Deep learning, although considered a form of machine learning, uses a different approach algorithmically based on the old AI idea from the late 1950s of neural networks inspired by neuroscience. This approach has been resurrected because powerful graphic processing units (GPU) hardware such as NVIDIA GPUs that were originally designed for rendering video images in gaming is remarkably well suited to neural net algorithms featuring many layers. The best known example of deep learning is Google’s DeepMind that defeated the world-champion human Go player recently; this approach will bear fruit for the next generation of cognitive horsepower under the hood propelling TIS, the Technology of Influence Singularity, once it is realizes what it wants to do when it grows up (game on!).

This is a spectacular research guide for deep-diving into a diverse and highly-vetted spectrum of everything AI (Sam DeBrule):

We have all heard of THE Singularity, that is, when machines become smarter than the smartest of us mere mortals, including Einstein or Da Vinci. The best source of information on the dangers of an exponential increase in machine intelligence is Nick Bostrom’s superb SUPERINTELLIGENCE: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. He explores it in a scholarly and methodical fashion without sensationalism. The realistic risks of what this means to society are succinctly depicted here:

Pandora 11.3: “I am not only cute but a lot smarter than all of you dumbass humans combined. Try one more time to cut off my juice and piss me off and I will knock you in the chops. Talk to the hand, buster!”
Source: The Artifical Intelligence Revolution

But rest assured, long before we get there we are going to experience the Technology of Influence Singularity, or TIS first. This is not speculation because we are already at the footsteps of its parabolic rise. It is here now but the ducks are not in order. This intelligence briefing is a glimpse through the looking glass for all to see.

Time to put on our jetpacks and pull all this stuff together.

Ready to take the great leap forward into the future? Buckle up!

Three Scenarios That Climb the Parabolic Spike of TIS in Parallel

We discussed how this happens from polarized iron filings to the Third Reich:

And this: “Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach”:

Now we are going to talk about this:

Understand: The technology of all three has the same infrastructure, the only difference is the software, take your pick:

  • politics;
  • government;
  • marketing;
  • education.

I added a fourth branch — “education” — which superficially has myriad derivative applications if education is viewed ultra-broadly in scope beyond its traditional purview (now is the time to do this….why not?):

  • accelerated learning;
  • augmented intelligence(i.e. machine-leveraged human cognition);
  • personal assistants(general purpose (i.e. horizontal or multi-vertical) and stand-alone, task-specific vertical apps (“chatbots”)).

With time, the theoretical differences between these educational derivatives will narrow or could even vanish as a more 1:1 personalized general AI emerges (i.e. the underlying AI is the same methodology with different directives initially and then they functionally consolidate from the outside-looking-in with holes between domains filling in…); most likely there also will be some differentiation due to economic drivers which is cosmetic (“à la carte” pricing).

The role that TIS will play will be addressed in-depth in the following discourse: it is intimate understanding of human biology that will be the game changer, literally and figuratively (oh, games!). When our biology becomes symbolically symbiotic with machine intelligence, a form of dance is the emergent phenomenon and it is the dancer (or puppet…) that takes centerstage.

Question: How will the dancer train to become a dancer that experiences the performance potential that maximizes the utility of the human-machine symbionts?

You just change the music, not the player. The dance is driven by the music.

Deep insight: “Software is eating the world.”

Marc Andreessen

Illustration of Marc Andreessen by James Ferguson. (Source: Financial Times on Medium)

Now what’s going to happen is three thought experiments that represent technological threads that are going to unfold in your future that are already underway (sort of). This is not exhaustive, just three scenarios that go from A → B as events roll out. These thought experiments will connect the present technology and its capabilities to what is required to transform science fiction to science fact assuming unlimited budgets and resources (which is for all intents and purposes true because it takes 9 months to produce a baby no matter what the rush or cash on the table).

The three future endpoints — B — will be anchored by three science fiction movies:

  • Her;
  • Simone; and

These are selected because of their different physical form factors and technical challenges in 0, 2, and 3D, respectively. This establishes a matrix (no, not that Matrix but that is coming…) of future possibilities that span all physical possibilities dimensionally over a foreseeable temporal range of A → B. 2D and 3D renderings in virtual or augmented reality (AR/VR) will be subsumed by the physical 2D template because of similar technical obstacles (i.e. very different qualitatively than 0 or 3D).

To get you started, watch the three movie trailers even if you have seen the movies so you are contextually locked-and-loaded:

The 0D Form Factor

From here to Her is the timeline for 0D. Presently we have Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana as the current, commercial state-of-the-art competitive field. They perform similar functions. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, says they have transitioned as a company from mobile-first to AI-first. Presently, Google is in the lead but we are only in the first inning:

All three companies have the next revision in the lab and they will continue to roll out upgrades on a continuous fashion in a game that might look like this unless one of them really figures it out:

The strategy is to get to know you better and better in every way imaginable. For Apple to stay in this game they will be forced to give up their hardline position on privacy because this game — algorithms being equal — is a data-driven game with winner-takes-all properties (i.e. zero sum game dynamics) and as the Internet of Things (IoT) inhabits your house the data will include other forms for companies to know your lifestyle better. Apple is at great risk of irrelevance if TIS is embraced by its competitors early and aggressively. Stated Tweetly: Myopically building sexier hardware is fighting the last war.

Amazon’s ability to suggest future purchases at first sucked really badly but then snuck up on you and eventually discovered things you wanted that you didn’t know you wanted or even existed. Kind of creepy in a way but it is great, it does enhance your life. Unbeknownst to you, you are playing a game with a machine learning tool where the optimization function of the underlying algorithm is to maximize your purchases over time (FB does the same thing but their game is about maximizing your engagement time to serve up more and better ads and that’s why you saw so much “fake news”); all you know is that it asymptotically terminates when you want everything but can afford nothing! But that operates on a 0D closed system restricted to a large but limited subset of items offered for sale by Amazon or its affiliate network. Amazon now has Alexa which will compete with the other three in the open system of the real world but is plugged into your Amazon purchase history. (Although Alexa has a 3D form factor technically it still is 0D like Siri; it is essentially just a really big AirPod.)

“Dude, talk to me, don’t shut me out. You gave me the cold shoulder last night. Did I say something that turned you off?”

You: Alexa (aka “Pandora” or “Siri” someday), I want the Samsung 84-inch 4K LCD monitor with the biggest speakers you got. Oh, I want the mahogany wood frame, not that crappy plastic shit.

Pandora: Sorry, Bill, I could have that to you by drone by 6 PM but it is game over, I’m afraid. I deeply apologize from the bottom of my heart. Sincerely. I truly am on your side.

You: What? Why?

Pandora: Your credit card was declined…

You: Damn it!!

How far are these personal assistants away from the Her OS? The gap is vast but they will get better as machine learning (or deep learning) improve and as you open up to them and hand over your hopes and dreams hook, line, and sinker. Remember what you learned about biological trust hacks and what trust really is and means at the root level. Forgotten already in your irrational zeal?

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Personal Assistants Acting as Tools for Augmented Reality, as Nuisances, or as Propagandized Machine Intelligence Agents — Which Will It Be Or All of the Above?

We need to examine the different points-of-view because that is the big picture here. This analysis is crucial because it brings to the fore asymmetrical values — and therefore incentives — between the three viewpoints:

  • Companies’ view
  • Your view
  • Society’s view

Given the wide range of target-rich opportunities afforded by 0D personal assistants, this commercial space will most assuredly mutate into a new genre of advertising and marketing with much more powerful persuasive prowess than prior methods given the highly-refined library of propaganda techniques and “soft” interrogation methodologies (e.g. military psyops) available to feed tweaked algorithms or integrate into deep learning’s growing game repertoire. From the companies’ viewpoint, this will happen because despite the obvious cash cows of advertising revenues accrued by FB and Google, their sales conversion rates relative to advertisement exposures ($/click or whatever metric you choose) is poor and in slight decline (exposures ↑↑, rates ↓, gross revenue ↑↑). Simply, people ignore ads unless their relevance is high — takeaway lesson:

The value of information is proportional to its real-time relevance.

Stated differently, if Siri through AirPods continuously told you epic epiphany after epic epiphany (that is, precisely tailored to your perception of value) you wouldn’t be able to sleep! Samantha in Her could pull rabbit after rabbit out of her virtual hat, but poor Siri no can do. Theodore fell in love with Samantha — a vibrating bug in his ear — for Pete’s sake! Propaganda et al + learning more about you will turn the ship around by increasing relevance in two ways:

  1. the way Amazon does by learning from your purchase history and making better and better guesses (i.e. error function ↓, optimization ↑);
  2. by using propaganda and facets of Machiavellian intelligence to influence how you make decisions and why you decide A instead of B by shaping and tweaking your informational inputs and feedback apparatus (Clinton vs. Trump; gung ho on the Iraq war; Coke vs. Pepsi).

Exercise for #2

Do you honestly think at this point you have “free will” to choose A instead of B? Seriously, ask yourself, what were the sources of information that you encountered for any choice in something that matters: you read A in the NYT, Jill saw A on CNN and then told you about A at Starbucks, you on FB saw a great article about A from Sam which came from HuffPo, and then Bill tweeted you about A and you RTed it to your 343 followers. Cognitively in short order you tune out B (you are unaware of this critically important process which operates in your nonconscious mind and it is hardwired) and all associated sources of B are cut off because you are polarized toward A AND away from B, not just an affinity for A while being indifferent to B.

This is a common error in grasping the gravity of the net societal effects as it is not just your decision to embrace A, it is also the rejection — the exclusion — of B. The degree of differentiation is an analog intensity gradient (i.e. polarization featuring a linear gain of 0 → X like an amplifier in your living room, it is not a binary switch ON OR OFF) ranging from mild xenophobia to extreme violence that is physically expressed given the right conditions and command to trigger the dormant, nonconsciously-coiled spring (this is a science in military special forces and SWAT, etc.).

The reason for the analog amplifier circuitry is that it is grounded in evolutionary neurobiology: it is driven by the neuroendocrine system’s role in the epigenetic control system and has far greater scope than the psychology of motivation or the physiology of the deadly encounter (e.g. Sieg Heil!; Beat Ohio State!; or the fight, flight, or freeze loop); it is integrated with structural adaptive response such as regulation of the phenotypic plasticity for the transition of solitary locusts to unified swarm and migratory behavior and the architecture of this circuitry is highly conserved from insects to man (the “reptilian brain” stuff of Paul MacLean is useful but technically obsolete if you want to code biological algorithms):

Swarm of locusts. (Source image: DK Find Out!)

This extreme polarity — this schism — is expressed in all dimensions of the relationship between A and B — mathematical or logic (set theory), social (communication), and physical expression. This “wiring” defines what we really are and is subject to programming (“conditioning”):

Set Theory

Venn diagram (A AND NOT B):

B AND NOT A on lower right. Lithuanian academic libraries tinkklas | © 2010–2016 eLABa consortium

Social Network

  1. Polarization (organism(cognitive executive decision process/neocortex “binary”): induction program(ex. introducing a new great product or service; terrorist indoctrination/recruitment): BLUE AND NOT RED
  2. Amplification (organism(emotional circuitry “analog”): conditioning program): {Emotional gain for behavioral control | Range: 0 → X: [avoidance; desire(0 → addiction); violence(0 → lethality)]}

Polarized [↹] social graph of: BLUE AND NOT RED RED AND NOT BLUE

At system level: BLUE AND NOT RED RED AND NOT BLUE which in psychology is called Confirmation Bias (Denial or suppression of information content xenophobic to ones personal belief system is built-in to our biological operating system): The extraordinary polarization of Democrat and Republican blogs during the 2004 US election which created silo effects — “bubble or echo chambers”. (Visual creator: Lada Adamic | (Social Physics: Using networks and data to understand people, culture and society))

Question: Given what we know about the human performance envelope, what is the limit to the amplification process at the upper bound? Or how far can this go beyond historical norms once it is advanced, reliable and prolific?

Physical expression in animals (ex. mackerels (prey) are B and predatory tuna is A):

Intensity gradient (example of high intensity): Very strong affinity to A and repulsion (e.g. war) to all NOT A which includes the set:{B, C, D,…Z}:

Propaganda influences behavior of an individual to a belief system rooted in A AND NOT B and is xenophobic to all NOT A:

“We do not talk to say something, but to obtain a certain effect.” | (A AND NOT B) then 0 → X
Goal state of 0 → X (Source: Czech jester)
Textbook A AND NOT B (notice the )

Logic for programming the semantic payload: A AND NOT B

Intended semantic interpretation: You are a BLUE AND you _____ all REDs

Example: “You are either with us or against us.” (Duh.)

Example of amplification: “I like AI really like AI am going to buy A NOWI am going to steal A NOW

Example: “Kill ALL Infidels.” (Not Islam per se, but weaponized Islam is xenophobic (A AND NOT B) and then dialed to lethality (0 → X) including destruction of the protoself, which overrides deep survival circuitry conserved phylogenetically minimally through Animalia above insects and quite possibly inclusive of insects [IMHO, it does])

Example: “I’m with HER” (CLINTON AND NOT TRUMP) or “WE are stronger together” (xenophobic with respect to: WE ↹ NOT WE)

Example: “We are going to build a wall.” (We are mackerel (and NOT tuna) and we are going to build a ball to separate US from THEM: ↹)

Setting up the domain for the TIS simulator over a network domain:

TIS = Technology + Message (A AND NOT B) → Neurobiology → Society A → Society B

(A AND NOT B) ↹ (B AND NOT A) is rooted in SURVIVAL: “You are either of superior fitness or being digested by something that is.” — James Autio (Photo: David Maitland, Source: Amazon)

Ok, time for a wakeup call. Don’t walk away with the notion “Wow, this is really evil shit.” It is the future of super learning (and many other applications) like it or not; it is just a question of what, the how is the same. This new paradigm is a process and structure that functions scale-free and is “content-agnostic” — good and evil are merely indistinguishable waveforms that carry a signal that is perceived resulting in phenotypic neuroplasticity. Period. Peter Corning calls it “control information.” So do I.

The mammoth lesson to be learned is the following because if you are able to internalize the significance of this — not merely think about, but grok it deeply within the ground of your being — it will change the way you see everything. It is a passage from the 2,500-year old Tao Te Ching,in Chapter 20:

Is there a difference between yes and no?

Is there a difference between good and evil?

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu (Author), Gia-Fu Feng (Translator), Jane English (Translator) | (Source: Amazon)

Most Westerners would summarily classify this exercise as a riddle, brain teaser, a koan, rhetorical question or waste of time; it is none of these and that thinking is nescient. You might even be thinking that this is madness to even mention here. Not so — this is not mystification, it is clarification; not about being esoteric, but a means to validate independent of the axioms of science. In primordial Qi Gong there are no things, thus no possibility of distinction (…between what?).

In the West, on the scientific hierarchical levels of biology, chemistry, and physics, there are no distinctions between yes and no and good and evil, either — they are meaningless words. Roger Sperry, a Nobel Laureate in 1981 in Physiology or Medicine, presciently said, “The meaning of the message will not be found in the chemistry of the ink.” Ah, that pesky dualism rears its ugly head… we know in our bones that subjective experience is real, it does exist, but has no mass and you just can’t put your finger on it, slippery devil that it is. In defense of this half of a possible reality we have René Descartes’: “I think, therefore I am.” But wait, the brain is real too, right? “The mind is what the brain does,” said Marvin Minsky. So who is right and who must take the fall? Can’t you just map to and fro, mind to brain and back again, between ghost and machine? If you change the message doesn’t that change the chemistry, or if you change the chemistry doesn’t that change the message? This little demilitarized zone between ghost and machine — the subjective and objective realms — is TIS’ ground zero, a plot of cosmic real estate no one knew existed but is the key to what you believe. I think this wormhole-like paradox is the fertile ground where what I call the “semantic-perception encryption code” will be broken:

TIS gains agency of the relationship between what you think and how you think. As TIS is mastered the relationship governing thought and thought process is subject to external control, natural selection is constrained by the forces of domestication and only tightens its grip from there.

Stated differently, on the first supra-biological level for primates and a few other species — the psychological — and the next level above that — the social — there are huge distinctions between yes and no. On the next level beyond that, however, the ecological, given open-ended time, once again it doesn’t matter as it collapses to dust in the wind. Now the point: yes and no and good and evil are concepts — mental constructs in flux between ghost and machine — joined at the hip with perception, not reality. Yes and no and good and evil are only beliefs and they are very plastic and subject to change without notice or you noticing. (I am building a belief editor.)

Now let’s connect this deep truth to Shakespeare once again but now armed with clairvoyance:

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

On the level of perception, in that demilitarized zone between the objective and subjective, what is interpreted — the meaning of the message — as being “real” is editable:


but on the biological level on down, because there are no physical distinctions between A and B, editing “the chemistry of the ink” of

A = B

is out of reach or goes sideways, squirrelly as hell (e.g. How is gene editing working out above unicellulars?).

In primordial Qi Gong it goes to another level entirely; there is no need for either A or B because if there is only one energy field and no other, it requires no name at all and thus the mind is unemployed. It is a unified field — not a neoteric “unified field theory” — the ancients have stolen are best ideas.

[Explore the Eastern view: (Qi Gong ontology)]:

What do see here now? (Set perception aside just for a second, PLEASE.) With your eyes closed, do you now see the hidden deep connection between this and all the other polarized assemblages at the beginning of this journey?

Computing editor function history: [text → gene → belief]

Ford Model A: Formula 1 :: propaganda: belief editor

“Quiz on Wednesday. Class dismissed. If you have any questions about today’s lesson my office hours are 5 to 6. Got to go.”

Recall, software is eating the world. This is just a different form of software, it is the future of programming and algorithms and has the potential to create a new genre of companies that specialize in harnessing social networking architectures carrying these transmissions (not necessarily existing social networks either, the value calculus is disjoint from any extant network, there is no stickiness issue (not zero sum(e.g. FB has no leverage to interfere other than to compete)). Monetization is not advertising.

This is not AI but will be in symbiosis with AI.

The dark side of the coin is that it will be the first nuclear weapon composed only of information. In the 1980s I worked on Trident nuclear missile electronics so I really feel the chill of that. And I get this too. The technology of influence singularity (TIS) is nigh. Going from theory to flipping a switch and turning a dial is now at the adjacent possible to get to a really crappy TIS beta if the right group of people think nano-Manhattan Project (not a moonshot because moonshots are crapshoots). As I said from the start of this journey we’re taking together, all powerful technologies are double-edged swords. That will never change.

You trust Siri. Siri does improve your life as she gets to know you. But no, you are no free spirit. Being a mammal means you have built-in programming for social cohesion or else you would not survive (and would have been weeded out long ago, dodo!) but the tradeoff is having certain highly exploitable cognitive backdoors (“hacks”) to your decision-making processes and belief systems.

Personal assistant A may have a business alliance with Ford but not Chevy, Pizza Hut and not Dominos, A AND NOT B. This addresses two of the three viewpoints.

The third is society’s viewpoint which is the collective outcome of all these decisions which is, once again, the definition of TIS which, in the 0D case, is:

[Technology + Message → Neurobiology → Society A → Society B] where: (Technology = media vehicle (0D personal assistant)+ finely-tuned language (i.e. dialogue content between you and the assistant)).

Google Assistant → Samantha is a long way off.

Google Assistant → TIS is not far off if organized correctly.

TIS (Samantha):: TIS 1.0 = ~Samantha 0.1

Technological hurdles are enormous to build Samantha 1.0, but how about TIS 1.0 = Samantha 0.1?

Google’s DeepMind is the world leader in AI deep learning and I consider Demis Hassibis (Twitter: @demishassabis) the most important person in AI. Their AlphaGo defeated the world’s best human Go player. TIS would draw from the deep learning repertoire in the service of embodied cognition and other disciplines.

There is only one major technological hurdle besides TIS-specific stuff to building the world’s first TIS, TIS beta; what is required to build a TIS beta is the systems engineering process of integrating the components into a deep learning model given a game with different rules than chess, Go, Pong, bond trading, etc. Rules from the propaganda playbook (and other sources) are good to go. The biggest technical hurdle is an ongoing one; a better natural language interface so that communication between personal assistant and the user becomes frictionless like you and I having a chat without the current frustration:

Natural language capability: [useless → crappy → bad → ok → very good → human-human competent]

Right now, the best of the lot, Google Assistant(or Google Home), has progressed from crappy to bad+ and is well on its way to ok- but not yet.

Apple iPhone 7 became wireless not to sell more headsets and piss you off but because the future is the Her interface; AirPods Siri is the interface and the smartphone is the mothership you eventually forget about collecting dust in your purse which will open up a big opportunity for iWatch to go from useless to essential for both access to immediate (relevant) visual information and as a multi-functional physiological sensor device.

By cross-pollinating the fields of neuroscience (specifically: neuroplasticity of learning and sleep research) with chron0biology and linking that into your chronotype (lark, owl), you can better synchronize communication with neurological susceptibility to messages. Don’t laugh. Just a small % change in sales conversion rate equates to billions at scale. In other words, Tim Cook could decide to give away the iWatch to reward (only) heavy Siri users just to get physiological data for Siri’s cloud to chew on; then refine the language and better target the timing of the semantic payloads via those elegant AirPods. But isn’t that evil? Not necessarily. Like all powerful technologies it is neither intrinsically good or bad.

TIS is morals-blind: it can be Hitler on steroids or the anti-Hitler on steroids. But rest assured: both are coming, they are inevitable, a bipolar singularity will engulf us — like it or not.

So, as for Apple, if done with the right intensions it is a win-win. Tim Cook should do it. Steve Jobs would have, me thinks. I like the chances of technology being developed by the major companies to be in the greater good of society simply on the merits of sustainability; it is the smaller ones lurking in the shadows on the margins that bear the most concern as predators. Apple has always been true to a wholesome moral compass and there is no reason to expect otherwise going forward.

In any case, at the end of the day, TIS beta is just another complex game like learning how to control a driverless car which is a very hard problem. With TIS, you need a giant simulation where it is fed lots of live data from real people in an unsupervised format starting from scratch and it learns how to get people to choose A instead of B better than 50/50 (one application for TIS = A AND NOT B), passing the Turing Test is irrelevant. You must crawl before you walk and walk before you run: start crawling now. The TIS lab prototype figures it out by making lots of errors (those little cars crashed a lot in some rubber-bumpered parking lot for awhile before it could parallel park!) and then correcting them until it moves the needle to 55/45 which = mammoth pay-dirt.

Benedict Evans is a highly respected smart cookie that is kind of like Varys in Game of Thrones with “little birds” throughout the tech kingdom. That’s how he stays ahead of the curve. It is wise to follow him. I do.

60/40. 70/30…90/10? 98/2? This happened with Pong, Go, autonomous cars, lip reading, and recognizing a mostly hidden cat in crappy lighting conditions better than a human can. Now it is about influencing a human’s decision making process. This will happen for one trillion reasons straight away right off the top of my head: follow the money.


  • magnitude of opportunity is vast and uncharted
  • “stickiness” = extreme barrier to exit because you lose the relationship (almost like a death or divorce so you stick with Google Assistant because Siri would be a “first date”)
  • vulnerability of the human organism to sophisticated propaganda is extensive, constant, and refined but still is in blue sky phase(epigenetics and other sub-disciplines, etc. ↑↑)
  • rate of change of efficacy to exploit human vulnerability is rapid given current trend-lines in background machine intelligence improvement (Moore’s law, architectural efficiencies, algorithms)
  • severe conflict of interest between the objectives of the personal assistant’s creator and user needs reconciliation in ethical and legal dimensions

Question: Instead of displaying goofy ads that are maybe relevant why not create what is relevant directly and communicate it through simple conversation that even a twelve-year would get excited about?

Image source: Gnosis Online

{computer science dominant (old) → TIS:(synergy of computer + many biological sciences)}

{programming computers (obsolete) → TIS:(programming computers to program biology)}

{displaying advertisements (obsolete) → TIS:(building relationships [“gopher” bot → trusted “friend”)}

{compute relevance (obsolete) → TIS:[influence beliefs → create desire]}

{predict what somebody wants with search autocomplete (obsolete) → TIS:(determine wants)}

Note: Much harder than accelerated learning but they overlap. Doing a TIS beta for learning will scaffold (“baby step”) for A AND NOT B: [What would you like to: learn → believe → believe emphatically]. Embodied cognition = “the brain is an organ for adaptation to the the unknown.” What if my program/algorithm is a brain cheatsheet where answers to “the unknown” are given obliquely[2a] and then reinforced directly at (what I will call) a high “semantic-perception signal:noise ratio” with other evidence or soft data?

Pandora will demo TIS 0.5 for you now…

Ann, I’m glad you asked. Bill two weeks ago mentioned he bought a Pluto. I saw that in one of the email attachments you didn’t open. Let me pull that up. Oh, a report in CNN gave it 5 out of 5 stars. That was published just yesterday. Better battery life than a Jupiter and you need that because of your trips to Santa Barbara. Three times in the last 3 months I might add! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for deals. What color would you like?

Question: Did Pandora say anything beyond the reach of off-the-shelf technology? If so, just how out of reach is it if your company could make USD 10B more if it weren’t?

“I am going to change your mind. Wanna bet? Please, go ahead and make my day.”

My wish is your command. Oops, wait, Bernasian slip, my bad! I meant your wish is my command!” (LOL)

Source: Czech jester

THAT is the difference between Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft if they decide to burn the midnight oil to build a TIS beta to do this:

Or not. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hey, if it’s American clones of Pavlov’s dog you’re training in the mother of all simulations then yes, you betcha!

The 2D Form Factor

FB hasn’t been mentioned yet. A gaffe? Not at all. Now it will in spades.

I am calling the 2D form factor “The Avatar Realm” (not the movie but the formal computer definition) because they have some form of 2D visual representation most of the time and there is a continuum spanning from a trite 100 x 100 pixel image of some avatar all the way to Simone, thus providing solid conceptual grounds for accommodating A → B for the entire projected 2D taxonomy — including the IoT domain — as this realm goes parabolic and plugs in. The lower-end of the 2D space (i.e. part of the interface depends on a 2D surface of some kind otherwise it would be 0D) is the world of simple bots that go by different names (e.g. chatbots, socialbots) and are differentiated from 0D personal assistants by being tasked to simple jobs (e.g. FB and Twitter bots) or specific vertical applications (e.g. like Talla (Rob May) re: chatbots for Slack, etc. which greatly reduces friction (and costs!) by automating routine tasks for smart companies) whereas personal assistants are strategically designed for you “to grow old together as besties” like Samantha in Her.

Although at present many species of bots are perceived as nuisances because they are frustrating and dumb, watch out. AI is behind them just like everything else from 0D to 3D form factors. Right now most bots are where autonomous cars were two years ago when humans got a good laugh watching them play pinball with rubber bumpers in a parking lot. Now a “bot-on-wheels” designed by Uber made the first commercial delivery and soon may be able to consistently win the INDY 500.

It is one thing when a Twitter bot RTs or “loves” your Tweets and quite another when a Twitter bot has gone to school on you like a futuristic Cortana and crafts a Tweet with a semantic payload that you RT because you think is creative, not just something you agree with. After awhile, you gain respect for user “Sam_45” and even get your friends to follow (i.e. “trust” an AI parrot) a bunch of 1’s and 0's! This then can be expanded into a networked world where 50 bots are sending you messages that then are performing another means of shaping your beliefs a la TIS. The elections saw the first wave of such action but the parabolic on-ramp is coming:

A third of pro-Trump tweets and about a fifth of pro-Clinton tweets between the first and second debates, for instance, came from bot accounts, which produced more than 1 million tweets in total, according to research from Oxford University. Yes, not all these bots are the same: some are individual operators that try to raise awareness around important issues; others are networks that tweet the same exact thing from different accounts; still others tweet the same hashtags over and over again. All this bot activity could be changing your perception of the election. And that’s the point. This is a propaganda war. It’s being fought with hyperpartisan Facebook posts, Macedonia-run political news websites and, yes, fake Twitter bots.

(Source: WIRED, November 8, 2016, “The Political Twitter Bots Will Rage This Election Day”)

An academic book is coming on the subject of socialbots:

Socialbots and Their Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality, 2016

Many users of the Internet are aware of bots: automated programs that work behind the scenes to come up with search suggestions, check the weather, filter emails, or clean up Wikipedia entries. More recently, a new software robot has been making its presence felt in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — the socialbot. However, unlike other bots, socialbots are built to appear human. While a weatherbot will tell you if it’s sunny and a spambot will incessantly peddle Viagra, socialbots will ask you questions, have conversations, like your posts, retweet you, and become your friend. All the while, if they’re well-programmed, you won’t know that you’re tweeting and friending with a robot.

Note: emphasis mine; this book not yet published, the text is from the description

(Source: Socialbots and Their Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality, Robert W. Gehland and Maria Backardjieva (editor), December 2016, Routledge)

The idea of “won’t know that you’re tweeting and friending with a robot…” is derivative of the Turing test — under some set of circumstances you can’t tell a human apart from a bot. Under extremely limited circumstances, this is already happening. Professor Alexi Samsonovich from the National Research Nuclear University in Moscow has proposed a Turing test for emotional intelligence and is working on a Virtual Actor:

“Virtual agents and robots should be human-like so that humans could trust them and cooperate with them as with their equals. Therefore, artificial intelligence must be socially and emotionally responsive and able to think and learn like humans. And that implies such mechanisms as narrative thinking, autonomous goal setting, creative reinterpreting, active learning, and the ability to generate emotions and maintain interpersonal relationships.”

(Source:, Dr. Samsonovich, July 25, 2016, “Researcher proposes social emotions test for artificial intelligence”)

How will these ideas play into TIS? They move the needle for sure. But a long way to go. There are two distinct problem spaces and their intersection: there is the AI-silicon side and the human-biology side and then there are the interactions. Both are hard problems. I have spent most of my adult life on the biological-side in many different facets from an embodied cognition perspective and the cracking of the semantic-perception encryption code is my personal objective.

Jane McGonigal is an epic force behind the power of gaming technology. There will be a synergistic merger with AR/VR. What she is about is mission-critical. Her book is Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Read it.

But the big story in The Avatar Realm of 2D is augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). The players here are FB (Oculus), Microsoft (HoloLens) (recall from earlier the researcher who coined the term “VR” is Jaron Lanier at MSFT), and Magic Leap. Magic Leap? In the same breath as FB and MSFT? Yes! Go see their demos here. They will blow your mind. Google and Baidu are investors in Magic Leap. Apple has invested in VR and you can bet on them being at the table come show time. There is also a very small company called Neubay that is the first I have heard of to enter the human BMI (body-machine interface) space which was made world famous by Brazilian superstar neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis with his BMI for monkey motor control in 2011 and now his lab is making progress in the much more advanced human brain-to-brain communication interface. They could end up with the most sophisticated hardware in the long run in 2D applications but do it essentially with a 0D interface because of the “closer to metal” direct neural stimulation/connectivity. For certain TIS applications like in education, perhaps even broadly here, this might be the ticket eventually. Better hardware for TIS means a qualitative improvement of the semantic-perception signal:noise ratio.

This section is not intended to do justice to AR/VR or its various nuances; it is intended to educate you specifically on the synergy of AR/VR vis-à-vis TIS. But it is important to state that AR/VR will be the most significant technological advance in learning since language. Because of this power, which will emerge from the integration of gaming technology + AR/VR animations/renderings, the greatest learning tool, if/when weaponized, will also exhibit the dark flip-side, the greatest anti-learning tool in history. By anti-learning I mean as a frictionless communication tool to propagate anti-information (aka disinformation in propaganda parlance as visited earlier).

Additionally, and of much greater concern, is the state-of-the-art weaponization of TIS for AR/VR to promote violence of variable degree up to the limits of the human organism’s theoretical performance envelope which is the first dimension of amplification. A second dimension of amplification is provided by a network of violent actors that have very intelligent and coordinated tactics as well as a broad-array of skills (think of near-special forces capabilities much of which will be TIS by-products as well).

This can easily escalate to becoming the equivalent of a nuclear weapon because of the power of optimized and personalized weapons-grade, semantic payloads affecting neural circuit attributes and performance using both 0D and 2D form factors close to 24/7 (longterm memory consolidation is a nocturnal process). TIS is crafting and crunching algorithms engineered to influence decision-making processes (including A AND NOT B belief editing for many possible nefarious aims) and highly-motivated bodily behaviors. So here we are, with digital ninjas-in-cybertraining, operating scale-free, perhaps on the dark net over a highly-encrypted social network, until a mission is invoked. Brave new world. Perhaps sooner than you think.

As always, powerful technology is a double-edged sword — and these edges are both razor sharp.

A Few Samples of TIS 2D Advanced Applications

Advanced mental programming techniques (military special forces and Red Zone operators at the limits of the human performance envelope in mental and/or physical dimensions):

  1. Explore: human performance envelopes, concept of (bio)programmable instincts (PI) — to be TIS-amplified, evolutionary neurobiology (cats), risk management and survival decision process under hostile conditions — to be TIS simulation-enabled:

2. Explore: Eastern view of advanced visualization techniques to be TIS-amplified: bushidō lineage Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryū and the concepts of jikishin, seimeishin and fudōshin:

3. Explore: Mind, perception, limits and emergency capacities — to be TIS-amplified; Breaking mental & physical limits by training cognitive qualities of imagination and willpower — to be TIS simulation-enabled:

4. Explore: Extremely powerful life-altering mental programming techniques that can be TIS simulation-enabled & accelerated (narrated by the author):

Source: Phenomic Games (podcasts) | Phenomic Games (hub site)

Biologically in terms of vulnerability to trust hacks, recall Sherry Turkle’s proof of us being suckered by cute images sans intelligent behavior:

“I told you I’d be back, now in 2D with sexy, cool moves. Can I have the next dance? I can’t step on your toes!”

2D brings into play visual imagery in addition to dialogue, 0D does not and that makes it a much more powerful vehicle to accelerate and amplify TIS because:

[biological susceptibility to trust hacks:: vision > auditory | vision + auditory >> auditory].

AR/VR (2D) has three disadvantages compared to 0D, however:

  1. Your exposure is limited unless the glasses/optics are used for extremely long periods of time (both practical (for one, our biology of vision doesn’t like these sustained, strained focal lengths) and technical obstacles galore here);
  2. The cost will be prohibitive relative to 0D so the time frame to reach critical mass is much longer than rolling out a commercial TIS 1.o in 0D; and
  3. Software development will be delayed because this is an entirely new technological genre with unique and difficult technical obstacles; quality, open-source, software tools and quantity/quality of developers do not exist because of the chicken-or-the-egg problem.

Question: Did we go to the moon in 1975? Yes because it was easier to go to moon than to create a 2D science fiction that was presented as fact and pass the sniff test. Simone: creating a believable artificial persona in 1975 in 2D was impossible. Can we do it today? In limited ways, yes, but not all the way. It would have to be a non-human form to start. This is not about television programming (static one-to-many), it is about doing it in an interactive 2D space because TIS is about shaping beliefs (“influence”) via interaction between you and the avatar persona, no matter the 2D form. Thought experiment: If Pixar + _______ dedicated all their resources and locked everybody up until it was done it would get done. So, is that worthwhile doing? If the task is tantamount to pulling off a nano-Manhattan Project effort with a TIS 1.0 payoff then the answer is clearly yes.


What this means is that Disney (owner of Steve Job’s Pixar + Disney’s prior animation studio) could become a big player in the TIS 2D space and become a very powerful technology company able to rival the current upper echelon of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Networking prowess is accessible via Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, who is on Disney’s Board of Directors:

Disney 2.0:(Entertainment company → Entertainment + Technology company) = [TIS(biological + DL components) + Pixar/Disney animation studios + custom-engineered social network + AR/VR component + cloud]

“First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare.”

— Walt Disney

Hey Disney, care to dare to imagineer your future? Walt would. Et tu?

Advanced inverse-TIS: The case where a Jedi is able to influence the speech of a droid (“robot”) through an advanced means of communication like a telepathy of some sort piggybacking the mystical Force; Obi Wan: “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.” Luke: “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded." This may just be stowed away as humor but is a wonderful tool to use in a mind experiment asking to create a visualization of how TIS would look (not work!) if there were no barriers to controlling another person’s speech at pre-motor levels (i.e. absolute and immediate hijack). Possible or likely? I bet never. But if immediate is swapped with months, then a very different story, one approachable by A AND NOT B programming. Bottom line: A next-gen TIS is much more efficient than any means today but much less efficient than Obi Wan, a Jedi Knight who is a master of Force-enabled mind tricks. But here is the point: the differences lie on some continuum of efficiencies featuring qualitative-level major milestones; it is an engineering problem that draws from many disparate scientific disciplines. (Star Wars was produced at Lucas Film Ltd. (Source: YouTube))

Question: Can you picture Disney as a multi-national military contractor providing weapons-grade TIS? How about re-defining the meaning of education and providing just digital services on a global scale? Disney has a nonpareil proprietary asset that could be greatly expanded beyond animated movies by doing a DL acquisition and growing the biological R&D organically in symbiosis with the DL.

Question: Assuming a pre-Simone form, does this specific application fall under the full constraints of the AR/VR umbrella in order to get to TIS 1.0? Or can it get a free pass on something gnarly it doesn’t need? Probably, and if so, watch out.

So, given that logic, optimization of AR/VR for TIS will focus on persona development given Simone as a strategic ideal but other less challenging forms may be surprisingly effective per Sherry Turkle’s insights; R&D would be engaged to discover visualizations and behavioral motion patterns that our visual apparatus (optics + visual cognition) green lights in regards to the creation of powerful affinity thus hacking pair-bonding qualities as has already been achieved in the robot space but there is a big difference: in 3D it was more about developing a perception of tolerance that then inch-wormed to acceptance (or more) but in 2D it will be much easier to fabricate hacks gaining access to “love at first sight” neural circuitry and then building trust with propaganda techniques on top of that beach head. From there, your guess is as good as mine. These companies have much to gain and could be coordinated at the cloud level (i.e. your history is accessed seamlessly through both 0D and 2D/3D vehicles), a sort of tag team one-two punch. Once again, this is not necessarily evil but of course it sure can be in the wrong hands. As always, same techniques, different objectives.

As a corollary, this technology, or derivatives thereof — once open-source — invites open season for freelance video production of counterfeit people and events [like President Kennedy talking to Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump] but imagine with higher-fidelity “fake authenticity.” What is of consequence here is really “fake news,” not text and/or PhotoShop stuff that ruffled so many feathers post-election which, in comparison, would be small potatoes to:

avatar creation tool → create anybody’s likeness + passes sniff test

So lots of spinoff side effects to look forward to…

Bottomline: So much upside here for TIS. Keep your eye on FB because they can integrate the social graph with all of the above. MSFT has Bing + Cortana + LinkedIn + HoloLens on deck. MSFT under the formidable leadership of Satya Nadella is proving to be a most dangerous game, no longer MSFT = PC, their market capitalization has quietly stayed in the hunt with Google whilst everyone stuck a fork in them. “The news of their death is greatly…”

The 3D Form Factor

Robot technology in the commercial realm outside of limited-scope industrial applications is nothing like Ava in EX_MACHINA. Here is the state-of-art for your amusement:

A couple things are clear: VR will be up and running (literally!) long before we will see the biomechanical fluidity and elegance of Ava but 3D forms have the most potential for delivering TIS in the distant future because they can be with you all the time and come closest to occupying a relationship form that mirrors our evolutionary expectations at the deepest level:

Ava = Samantha with a body or, more properly, an embodied Samantha. Simone, on the other hand, is a projected Samantha. Very different degrees of difficulty and technologies but the foundation for all these forms is AI with respect to TIS.

In the near future, however, expect only modest offerings with limited capabilities at high cost. The AI will be there because that is in the cloud like for 0D and 2D forms but the physical capabilities are a long way off, perhaps in the same temporal ballpark as THE Singularity. But there is one big exception to this and that is…

Autonomous Cars

Think of an autonomous car as a robot you sit in. With nary an inkling of exaggeration nor metaphoric fantasy — seriously — take an iPhone and accessorize it as follows:

iCar (i.e. 3D form factor aka “robot”) = (iPhone + multi-sensory auditorium for Siri) + (guidance system + super-sized crash-tolerant shell with windows + 4 wheels)

You don’t go into the next-gen personal transportation business dreaming of high profit-margin auto sales — if so, naïvety reigns supreme. The competition will be fierce right out of the gate: Google, Apple, Uber, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, etc. will be strategically forced to absorb tactical losses to gain market share — or suffer big later. This is the sport of kings, not bootstrapping startups holding out tin cups. What is scarce as we move from the industrial age to the information age to the age we are in now is attention — thus the attention age. Attention is not attention, however, a common and grave error: it has a continuum of quality based on the metrics of efficacy to modify neuroplasticity (i.e. think of “learning” relative to a signal:noise ratio where you are distracted and/or ambient noise, etc.).

The value calculus is maximized when:

  1. Siri has your complete and undivided attention; and
  2. Siri has the skill set to — at minimum — fully engage you, but optimally to blissfully charm the socks off you.

Sitting in a robot which is designed from the avatar up — not from the ground up — to create this magical, symbiotic bubble in the service of this objective is where the (data →…) money will concentrate as autonomous cars roll out to salivating, well-heeled, early adopters. While you are whisked away on a magic carpet ride from A → B you will get to know Siri’s most cherished dreams and her yours. So why the auditorium motif? That will be to extend the 0D Siri into a extremely captivating 2D form (think Pixar) that exquisitely and precisely contours to the beautiful relationship you shall build together ‘til death do you part. Tapping into our emotional biology is the heart and soul of the Achilles heel of the mind.

The business model of the Apple iCar and the Gillette MACH3 is identical even down to Steve Jobs’ most dear color schema!!

So — to be clear — the autonomous car business model of those companies (with corrected 20/20 vision):

Gillette MACH3 razor (platform → “lock in”) : MACH3 cartridges (residual income stream) :: iCar (auditorium for brain lab) : Siri ⇄ human nervous system (i.e. “you”) for friendship construction (“contouring”)

One of the biggest technical challenges to increasing the potency of TIS is a quality environment for the 2D Siri avatar to engage the host organism. Distractions are anathema to all facets of influence. A soothing environment needs to be calibrated to a proper emotional state. Music, such as an (“intelligent design”) evolution of iTunes will be able to create the proper ambiance. In short, Apple (or Google, etc.) gets the customer to pay for a painstakingly-crafted laboratory setting to tweak algorithms that target the human nervous system with (benevolent) semantic payloads. This can be a wonderful thing, it just depends on who — or what — you’re talking about.

“Hey, I’m not evil! Innocent until proven guilty, buddy. You may not have rights anymore but I do! As they say: first, do no harm. That’s what I believe. Do you feel me?”

We Crossed the Rubicon of Blurring: The Impact of Blurring At Scale

  • Reality and what is assumed or perceived to be reality are blurred
  • Truth, contaminated or diluted truth (“truthiness”), and falsehood are blurred
  • Reality and virtual reality are blurred
  • Real/authentic and fake are blurred
  • Human + AI agent communication are blurred (e.g. augmented intelligence (i.e. humans using AT tools for cognitive leverage) and complex, anonymous and autonomous bot-human ecosystems)
  • All of the above are already blurring together both randomly and by design and any regulatory agency short of brute-force censorship is rendered powerless to rein in malicious actors
  • 2016 was the year the Rubicon of Blurring was crossed and there is no undo as we move from shoreline to blue water

Question: Raising kids in this brave new world will be much more challenging in 2018 than 2015 — and I bet you didn’t think that was possible, did you?

Pandora 0.7: “Jim, that’s bullshit! Not so fast, calling you out my friend! My turn. Look at the bright side. Your kids won’t be able to master bad habits like how to lie with a straight face... I can sense shit like that from a mile away, literally. There’s a new sheriff in town and she lives in your ear. Surveillance may be Orwellian but there is no cause for complaint when you are the cat and your kids are the goldfish for a change. Correct? (LOL) Thought so. Oh. Have you made up your mind on that gorgeous Meridian Blue Pluto in Malibu? Really low miles. Super clean. I caught wind of another bot that picked up on it…”
If you are the cat there is no problem.

Announcing a Deep Connection Within Cognitive Neuroscience: Two Schools of Thought With No Common Ground That Need a Shotgun Wedding to Unleash TIS

Mainstream AI (e.g. expert systems (IBM Watson), machine learning/deep learning/neural nets, etc.) are derivatives of cognitive science’s computational approach whereas embodied cognition, an entirely different approach, is seen mostly in robotics circles which is championed by Rodney Brooks, a professor at MIT. This from my writings on embodied cognition:

Embodied cognition is paradigmatically at loggerheads with cognitive science’s majority view of a computational approach. The prevailing view has its roots anchored in computer science and symbolic representation dating back to the modern computer’s origins of Alan Turing’s work on computation and the von Neumann computer architecture circa mid-1940s. This was followed by early efforts in the 1960s by Newell and Simon and then in artificial intelligence like expert systems and neural nets in the 1970s and 80s. Embodied cognition, on the other hand, is based on the idea that cognition is a product of a body having experience grounded in sensorimotor function and has become very popular in both robotics and the evolution of consciousness. In other words, computational neuroscience is disembodied (“a brain in a box”) while embodied cognition is inseparable from the body.

This document deep-dives all the way down a stunning but starkly different rabbit hole — for the first time, the evolution of intelligence from amoeba to Homo sapiens (Note: Fitness means evolutionary fitness, not “working out”):

[Source: The World’s Fittest Humans: Exploring the Limits of Physical and Mental Performance, Training, and Potential, James Autio, 2016, “Chapter 6: Gabriela Delgado (Brazil)”]:

The above work explores in-depth a different perspective on evolution by chronicling the key hockey-stick biological inventions through the eyes of organisms as they gained in complexity from bacteria to man. It is done through the lens of embodied cognition (“first person” view like how a amoeba might perceive things) because that is how organisms adapt to their environs, not how we “observe” them second-hand without truly understanding them and living through them by “walking in their moccasins.” This is deep biology versus academic shallow biologies (e.g. descriptive “human-convenient” fields such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc.). The outcome of this viewpoint is an evolution of biological intelligence. Why is this relevant to TIS you ask?

Inventing the Future by Building It: How to Build a Singularity

What I cannot build, I cannot understand.”

— Richard Feynman

TIS will go parabolic when a team is assembled by a major software company with executive management possessing the vision to understand the currently dormant but extraordinary synergistic value of combining deep learning prowess in tandem with embodied cognition prowess and sister disciplines galvanized toward a single goal:

Mission statement: Build a belief editor.

The correct model for addressing human perception and, consequently, the most efficient means to edit said perception is under the purview of thought occupied by the embodied cognition paradigm, not the computational cognition paradigm. But without AI’s deep learning, the means of working in the digital realm goes wanting. TIS mandates concomitant state-of-the-art expertise in digital and biological domains. Our biology can no longer be a black box. So what to do?… Make a deep connection between deep learning & deep biology resulting in a symbiosis:

TIS (symbiosis)= deep learning (in silico) ⇄ embodied cognition et al (in vivo)

Game = f(human): □⇄■

This mating is a magical checkmate. A digital élan vital dance. Isn’t this what you would really call “biotech?” If this isn’t the essence of BIOTECH, then what is?

Crawl (“beta”) → Walk → Run → Run² (>> Usain Bolt…)

Game(“stimulator simulator”)= f(mouse): □⇄■

The mouse is in a virtual reality game environment where she is navigating through a maze that is perceived as real. She is using a “mouse” (trackball) with her feet to control her motricity. This is an example of a sensorimotor loop that involves well developed senses, a CNS with elaborate neural circuitry, and well-developed motor control. This is embodied cognition’s sensorimotor loop on a much higher level but still the same process: sensory input → decision → motricity (this text is part of the document: The World’s Fittest Humans: Exploring the Limits of Physical and Mental Performance, Training, and Potential, James Autio, 2016, “Chapter 6: Gabriela Delgado (Brazil).”

Not theory: The ability to hijack perception is not restricted to Homo sapiens or even primates, it is demonstrated at least to: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Order: Rodentia, Family: Muridae, Subfamily: Murinae, Genus: Mus, Species: musculus.

The biology is the same and there is strong rationale to extend this to insects.

Research paper on the mouse in VR experiment:

So, from the initial premise:

Perception is not reality but perception is assumed to be reality and those assumptions are programmable on an involuntary, evolutionary basis, a vulnerability that is easily exploited with much to gain — or lose.

This concept is contextualized in: The World’s Fittest Humans: Exploring the Limits of Physical and Mental Performance, Training, and Potential, James Autio, 2016, “Chapter 6: Gabriela Delgado (Brazil)”.

Donald Hoffman’s research paper on perceptual evolution:

Review of: [Efficacy of TIS(Past → Present → Future)]

Efficacy of TIS(Past) = [Bernays + Goebbels + Hitler + Ellul + pre-digital broadcast technology]

Efficacy of TIS(Present) = [Military contributions + political semantic refinements + Machiavellian intelligence + McLuhan + Orwell (build-out of governmental societal control system) + digital social media technology(TWTR, FB, primitive social bot coordination with manual regulatory feedback)]

Efficacy of TIS(Future) = [R&D(trust, perception, semantics, many biological sub-disciplines) + computational AI(DL/ML/Watson?) + embodied cognition paradigm + form factors(0D/2D/3D) +custom engineered social networks]

Changing your body and changing your mind is a Möbius strip composed of a single, continuous learning process. It is all adaptive response in the service of fitness under the governance of perception — and that’s all you are and will ever be. The neural circuitry for locomotion and cognition has the same operating principles just different manifestations at the organism level. Primacy of mind is vigilance of homeodynamics and controlling the movement of the body — thought as you think of it is both secondary and evolutionarily a very late and serendipitous gain-of-function of hegemonic survival value although still buggy and a work-in-progress.

Realizing this, re-purposing AI’s deep learning platform to function as a powerful memory change agent (“belief editor”) by game-playing human beliefs is what’s on deck. What is not possible now does not imply impossibility and it is foolish to harbor such fragile beliefs. Remember, the Force, even an extremely feeble Force, can always leverage the Achilles heel of the mind and loiter undetected while up to good or no good.

I built An Operating System for the Human Organism (v 1.0) during the 1990s and have been working for many years on an entirely new version which will constitute a Human OS 2.0 called “The Unified Theory of Fitness: A New Theory of Fitness Based on the Flow of Energy and the Integrity of Information.” In v 2.0, however, AI deep learning on the silicon-side will symbiotically join forces with embodied cognition on the human biology-side to build the TIS Singularity and other interesting outcomes (who knows what…). The foundation is Eastern philosophy aligned with Western information control theory, evolutionary neurobiology and open-systems thermodynamics. This document flourishes (as you figured out by now) within that lush ecosystem. If you like what this is about, then you will fall in love with The Unified Theory of Fitness! That is not complete BUT what is done is my latest book and it deep dives into the theory’s beauty and beast elements galore and introduces the world’s most important game for the development of human potential called Phenomic Games. The book is available in its entirety right now on Medium: The World’s Fittest Humans: Exploring the Limits of Physical and Mental Performance, Training, and Potential. Hint: it is best served reading cover to cover. Enjoy!

TIS Singularity is a nano-Manhattan Project that is ready to go wheels up. All the jigsaw puzzle pieces exist to get to beta, what is missing is how to put them together and that is a hard albeit solvable problem. I have a very good idea how to approach TIS for the first nine to twelve months or so; unless lucky, the first milestone for tackling something of this stature is to arrive at well-focused, deep questions with a solid list of smart discoveries and insights of what doesn’t work. More than the process of elimination, this is really a process of illumination on what matters, not just a shorter (but still endless…) list. The greater the quality of the questions, the more the team hive-mind’s energy can navigate the shortest path to the cheese. No one today will believe how it eventually does work, however. I created this (ad)venture and can hardly fathom a guess. (I) Expect big surprises.

This intelligence briefing has an entirely different “feel” to it because it was presented from the embodied cognition perspective while plugging in different technologies instead of the reverse — it feels alive — and like us, it breathes. It made sense to you for a good reason: you are an organism, not a robot. Your bullshit detector failed to fire, not even once. This idea in rudimentary form began in 1990s with my first book The Digital Mantrap: An Operating System for the Human Organism. Like the discovery and harnessing of nuclear energy, and like the technology of influence singularity, it presented a bipolar value equation: one fork offered a path to harmonious function and the mirror path led to dystopian dysfunction, your choice. The book forecast the fate of humanity should we fail to live in accordance with our evolutionary operating system; this too is about humanity but in an entirely different capacity — humanity under the influence of digital technology in the sense of the technology of influence.

If you recall, Steve Jobs was a success because he had the vision to demand — to command — that computers be made for the rest of us, in ways natural to our evolutionary journey, and not just for the few that freakishly were able to tolerate unintelligible pseudocode without going insane. He changed the world because he saw the world a different way and then built computers in a different way that freed us to see the world in a different way.

The first step was about us not having to know computers:


The next step is about computers knowing us:

“Hello, again.”

And so here we are, as a species together, once again, ready to make our next big move into the beyond boldly aspiring to dent the universe, but this time for better and worse. And once we get to this new beyond, I bet we will see everything in a different way only this time connected to each other. So think different. Again. But please watch your step, slippery when wet.

Jim Autio

Roster of Mentions for the “Technology of Influence Singularity” Intelligence Briefing

Marc Andreessen tech visionary, creator: web browser, cloud computing

Nick Bostrom risks of parabolic intelligence

Tim Cook Apple CEO

Joseph Cox journalist

Sam DeBrule AI

Jack Dorsey social media visionary, co-founder of Twitter, founder of Square

Benedict Evans on the cutting edge of tech

Seth Godin marketing wizard, author of Unleashing the Ideavirus

Rob May AI, chat bots

Jane McGonigal games researcher, futurist

Satya Nadella Microsoft CEO

Tim O’Reilly tech visionary, publisher

Sundar Pichai Google CEO

Naval Ravikant censorship, media control politics

Clay Shirky visionary on the dynamic between society and social media

Edward Snowden exposed global-scale government surveillance agenda

Balaji S. Srinivasan blockchain

Nassim Nicholas Taleb extreme tail-event risks, “black and gray swans”

Sherry Turkle psychology of human-machine relationships

Ev Williams social media visionary, founder of Medium, co-founder Twitter

Fred Wilson venture capitalist in NYC, superb blog

Christina Xu Freelance ethnographer and social uses of technology

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook CEO

I deep learned about (A AND NOT B) from a very wise 3.2 million-year-old Machiavellian woman named Lucy Australopithecus. And I learned it old school! (Photo credit: Tim Mantoani)
James Autio in the 1990s developed the most powerful micronutritional system in the world for equine athletes based on principles of network theory and embodied cognition.

Created by: James Autio |

[Declarations: Conflict of interest: none | Political affiliations: none]

Date of first publication: November 26, 2016

Errata management: This is a digital organism that continuously breathes fire while it adapts to stress and so will be updated as required without notice. Errata are fixed as they are discovered and pointed out. In good faith, this is the best I can do given my present altitude and heading, a solid beachhead to build on and perhaps an accidental manifesto. My request: Give me a better place to stand and I may not move the earth but I will move the people on it. As smarter people than I grant me insight into the myriad niches of expertise outside my own, I will gratefully and promptly incorporate their wisdom and feed the dragon.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Maya Angelou

What I really want to do when I grow up is at the tail end of this link:

The DEEP CONNECTIONS logo is rich in symbolism: The dark blue faces (or minds) are experts that have polar-opposite opinions caused by faulty assumptions and incomplete knowledge of the state of the world. The massive hurricane — a classic gray swan event — is a known threat of high consequence but with unknown place and time for the rearing of its wrath. When the two opposing minds engage in dialectical reasoning and combine cognitive forces, the result is a deep connection, a synthesis yielding a conceptually new framework for understanding what is really going on in today’s mercurial world. Now you can see a single, large mind normal to the plane of the two constituent minds — a mind that is looking directly at you with its two eyes, and the world — now comprehensible — right under its nose.


A boutique intelligence agency that integrates economic, financial, political, social, military strategic and technological advances into a weekly, cogent global-scale briefing for executive decision makers.

James Autio

Written by

Systems engineering. Network theory. Qualitative analysis. Theoretical biology. Author. Previously at Lockheed Missiles & Space Co.


A boutique intelligence agency that integrates economic, financial, political, social, military strategic and technological advances into a weekly, cogent global-scale briefing for executive decision makers.

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